Volpe Center is recommending side guard stength standards that they speak of moving to a national regulation of only 450 lbs based loosely to be close to the UK standards. The added strength would be similar to Brazils standard to protect motorcyclists. They seem to be completely anti-car protection even changing the meaning of side guards to not include car protection. This is unacceptable, especially moving forward with zero discussion with victims to learn about their needs and desires.
It was announced a breakthrough occurred in steel fabrication that beginning this year a new steel alloy would have the weight of aluminum and the strength of titanium and costs similar to the lowest cost steel. This coupled with plastic or fiberglass composites that are also low weight should make low weight and higher speed (35 mph or so) side guards easily achievable. Volpe seems to be very tightly integrated with business interests which is of both benefit and concern. Side guard companies are pushing technology to benefit sales rather than public needs. Volpe is not collecting car crash data as an example, thus we have databases which almost require only protecting pedestrians and cyclists as the data for cars are not strong enough to support their inclusion in new regulatory standards.
When you exclude victim voices such as in current transportation funding, outcomes can be predictable. We need crash testing and data collection to improve guard designs now for future U.S. regulation. We have the first self driving licensed trucks in the U.S., this year. We need vastly increased funding for intelligent transportation technologies this year to save tens of thousands of lives in the U.S. in the near future. Regulation of new safety technology requires data collection and research to prove the benefits of the regulation. We needed increased funding in the current budget and new safety technologies had the best life saving potential of all safety spending. Safety groups completely left this out of all public announcements of severe safety defects contained in the current U.S. transportation budget bill. Shame on all of us!