Automobile Safety Foundation Spotlights Mirror Safety Crisis

Group Warns National Recall May Be on the Way

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 31 -- Paul Raul of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirms that a recall of standard equipment side-view mirrors is likely due to safety issues. These mirrors have a hazardous blind spot that conceals quickly approaching or nearby vehicles, causing merging and lane-changing endangerment. This would constitute the biggest automotive recall of all times. The recall of all standard side-view mirrors, which could occur at any time, would impact tens of millions of motorists across the United States.

According to accident statistics from the NHTSA and the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 413,000 vehicle accidents are caused by blind spot- related mishaps. Lane change accidents such as side-swipes damage more than 826,000 vehicles and injure more than 160,000 people each and every year. Convex mirrors can drastically reduce those numbers.

The NHTSA has stated that studies show "passenger side mirror image comparisons of convex and planar mirrors illustrate the enhanced traffic detection provided by convex mirrors. With a convex passenger side mirror the driver will be able to detect a vehicle in the next lane even if the vehicle is as far forward as the passenger side window, while the driver of a vehicle with a flat passenger side mirror, as required by S6, cannot see the vehicle until it is almost 20 feet behind the vehicle."

In 2004, the European Union (EU) passed regulation to address new rules to eliminate the "blind spot" on motor vehicles that would entail:

   -- Increasing the mandatory minimum field of vision for certain vehicles;
   -- Mounting additional mirrors on certain vehicles;
   -- Upgrading technical characteristics of mirrors in line with technical
      progress;
   -- Replacing certain mirrors with other indirect vision systems, such as
      camera/monitor systems.

According to Paul Raul, side-view mirrors pop out and can be replaced easily. ASF agrees with the EU's recommendation that aftermarket safety mirror attachments be added to vehicles. ASF recommends that safe aftermarket mirrors should be made more readily available at retail outlets and distributed by state or federal governments.

ASF has been a leader in advocating that all automobile companies take remedial action on the production of rear-view mirrors and begin manufacturing safe side-view mirrors as standard equipment. ASF petitioned the NHTSA for rule-making to amend Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 111 (FMVSS 111) in 2005. The NHTSA's mission statement reads, "NHTSA is responsible for reducing deaths, injuries and economic losses resulting from motor vehicle crashes."

In light of the ASF petition, the EU's ruling, and many years of research, the NHTSA FMVSS 111 rule-making is getting close. More information can be found at http://www.carsafe.org/.

About ASF

The Automobile Safety Foundation is a fully independent non-profit organization dedicated to vehicular safety, while addressing public driving awareness and auto safety issues. It is an advocate of numerous vehicular safety measures, including steering-lock education and remedial replacement, safe rear-view mirrors, hands-free cell phone technology, alternative fuels, and more.

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