WASHINGTON (May 3)—The latest fatality statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration caused a major consumer group and a U.S. senator to call for passage of stringent new auto safety legislation.
"We need Congress to wake up to these alarming numbers," said Sally Greenberg, senior product safety counsel for Consumers Union, which wants Congress to pass legislation setting stability standards for sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks. Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, used the figures as a point to call for making vehicle rollover resistance information available to consumers and using child dummies in rollover testing. Earlier, DeWine advocated legislation for measurement of tire aging, but the tire industry persuaded him to withdraw it.
NHTSA reported highway fatalities increased to 43,220 in 2003 from 42,815 the year before. SUV rollover deaths rose 10 percent during the period, to 2,701 from 2,448, and those deaths represented 55 percent of all highway fatalities involving SUVs.