WASHINGTON - Federal safety officials have detailed information on the causes of vehicle crashes - in the 1970s.
The Bush administration, acknowledging the pitfalls of basing regulatory decisions on data that is more than 20 years old, is seeking $10 million in fiscal 2004 to study crash causes.
Josephine Cooper, president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers here, said new data would help government and industry decide where safety improvements are needed. A study might show that today's vehicles cause fewer crashes than those of the past, she said.
"We think that in light of the intense work that the companies have done on the vehicles, on crashworthiness, on structures, on all of the above, that that is likely to be the finding of the study," she said.
In other words, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration might need to devote more attention to other issues, such as driver distraction, and less to vehicle regulation.