Magazine article The American Prospect

... and Read Labels ... (Devil in the Details)

Magazine article The American Prospect

... and Read Labels ... (Devil in the Details)

Article excerpt

DON'T BUY THE CANARD that federal regulators under the Bush presidency refuse to do anything. Consider, please, the sudden outburst of activism at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA, for you federal-abbreviation aficionados). Just last year, the NHTSA issued a paper documenting the perils of 15-passenger vans. The study showed that such vans loaded up with 10 or more passengers were three times more likely to roll over than vans with fewer than 10. Those 10-plus vans, of course, are characteristically filled with the likes of schoolchildren or church parishioners, bouncing along to the stadium or the lake.

Having noted this threat to the safety of Americans, what did the NHTSA do? Did it run road tests on the vans rather than just compile accident statistics and run mathematical equations, which has been standard operating procedure? Did it issue a rollover standard mandating that automakers build safer vans--or even issue an advisory that they should? …

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