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NHTSA Numbers

Rant mode: ON.

Re: quoting NHTSA numbers.....

My opinion regarding air bags is on record.  However, what I have 
learned about NHTSA's procedures lately makes me trust their numbers 
as far as I can throw a fit.  (To quote Heinlein.)  I could not 
justify an air bag based on them.  Heck, I couldn't justify breathing 
based on them!

Ref: a recent issue of Car & Driver went into GREAT detail on NHTSA's 
assertions that speed is a major factor in highway deaths.  Turns out 
that due to their data gathering procedure, the following crash would 
be entered as "speed-related".....

A drunk traveling the wrong way down a 1-way street, running a stop 
sign at 10 mph over the limit and T-boning a family car.

THIS is a SPEED-related accident in NHTSA's data system!  Why?  
Because the car was speeding.  Other factors are NOT considered.  
This is a purely political-administrative decision in their data 
gathering process!

Also, remember (attempting to recall other C&D articles and 
editorials) how NHTSA estimated deaths from the increase in speed 
limits?  They didn't happen.  So the estimates came down and (I 
suspect) the data gathering system was "tweaked" to try and support 
their estimates.

Most NHTSA estimates fall at BEST into the category of 
"SWAG"...Scientific Wild-Assed Guess.

You, gentle readers, are left to calculate how much faith I place in 
any of NHTSA's other numbers......

Rant Mode: OFF....

Al Powell, Ph.D.                 Voice:  409/845-2807
107 Reed McDonald Bldg.          Fax:    409/862-1202
College Station, TX 77843