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Transportation

Why Do Federal Crash Test Ratings Still Leave Pedestrians Behind?

The recent upgrade to federal safety standards for new car models emphasizes new technology but fails to consider the growing risks of large SUVs and trucks. 

A Lexus with automatic braking technology avoids colliding with a crash test dummy as part of a safety demonstration at the consumer technology trade show CES 2022 in January. 

A Lexus with automatic braking technology avoids colliding with a crash test dummy as part of a safety demonstration at the consumer technology trade show CES 2022 in January. 

Photographer: Ethan Miller/Getty Images North America

Fifty years ago, the Austria-born philosopher Ivan Illich argued that modern industries were locked into a destructive cycle: They would devote lots of resources to solving problems that the industries themselves created. In his book Tools for Conviviality, Illich cited health care as an example, arguing that “huge amounts of money were spent to stem immeasurable damage caused by health treatments.” The public can easily be hoodwinked, Illich claimed, since “periodic innovations in goods or tools foster the belief that anything new will be proven better.”

That sounds a lot like how federal regulators recently responded to the growing risks that SUVs and trucks pose to pedestrians.