Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Test and Tell

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Test and Tell

Article excerpt

When is a warning label useful? When it can help you avoid a hazard.

A warning on a pill bottle that says, "Avoid alcoholic beverages while using this product," empowers you. It's within your control to avoid the pills, or the alcohol, or both.

But labels on sport utility vehicles (SUVs) warning that making sharp turns may cause the vehicle to roll over, are not so useful when you are suddenly confronted by an emergency. Like an intermittent electrical failure, you never know when the problem will occur. When a child or deer darts in front of your vehicle or a large object falls off a truck in front of you, you must make a split- second decision to avoid a tragedy. You need to do whatever it takes - including making sharp turns. And if those turns result in a rollover, you are in grave trouble, even though you've read and remembered the warning label. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) just revised the label it requires on many SUVs as part of its effort to reduce deaths and injuries from SUV rollovers. The new label is more visual and less wordy than its predecessor, with graphics that encourage drivers and passengers to buckle their seat belts. If that makes even a few more people buckle up, the new label will be a great service. But if we rely on such a label to also reduce the occurrence of rollover in the first place, we will be disappointed. In reality, the label is the government's painful acknowledgment that there is, in fact, cause for serious concern. The truth is, you can't sticker over such a fundamental safety problem. The best approach is for the consumer to drive a safer vehicle to begin with. That is the goal of ongoing research at NHTSA that should become public this spring. It calls for a "test and tell" approach, similar to what's done when the agency tests a vehicle's performance in crashes and publishes the results. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.