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Pete Mackey
Pete Mackey
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What/Who Has Driven Highway Safety?

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A friend of mine sent me a video of a crash test of 2009 Cheverolet Malibu and a 1959 Cheverolet Bel Air. The video shows, from several angles, how much safer the newer model is. That crash test was performed by The Institute for Highway Safety, an industry think tank funded by 80 different insurance companies. I perused the IHS website and found it quite interesting. To read the Institute’s version of highway safety, however, Ralph Nader never existed. Anyone who has read Unsafe At Any Speed, Nader’s 1965 indictment of the U.S. auto industry, knows that he raised our nation’s consciousness on the issue of automobile safety. Perhaps that book spurred the Institute’s change in direction in 1968:

Founded in 1959, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety was at first a conduit for insurers to support academic and other organizations in the field of highway safety. In 1968 the Institute’s Board of Governors decided after extensive review to change the organization. Today it is a scientific research and communication group dedicated to reducing the losses — deaths, injuries, and property damage — from crashes on the nation’s highways.

It sounds like this outfit is doing something good for drivers, and maybe a lot of good. On the other had, the stated goal of each of its member insurance comapnies is shareholder profit. That can be good for the general public, but maybe not. Anyone out there who is in a position to comment?