Washington, D.C. – Domestic and import automakers have now successfully implemented a voluntary agreement under which cars and light trucks are engineered to be more compatible in front- and side-impact crashes.

Since launching the agreement in 2003, the manufacturers have been increasing the percentage of vehicles with the compatibility engineering, and as of September 1, 2009, 100 per cent of all applicable vehicles will be made in a way that improves crash compatibility.

The voluntary agreement was decided by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, and the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The three parties have reported the agreement’s success to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The agreement involves BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Isuzu, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota and Volkswagen.

The IIHS said that studies support the substantial real-world benefits of the redesigned vehicles. The fatality rate of seat-belted car drivers in frontal crashes with 2000-2003 model-year light trucks during 2000 to 2004 was 19 per cent lower when the trucks already met the criteria than when they did not. The research also found a 19 per cent reduction in car driver fatality rates when the cars were struck in the side by light trucks meeting the criteria.

“This voluntary agreement is actually a model for responsible action on behalf of automakers to improve occupant safety,” said Alliance president and CEO Dave McCurdy. “Participating automakers entered into this agreement at the end of 2003, and immediately began working to implement the enhancements. Just six years later, 100 per cent of the vehicles involved in this commitment have now been engineered according to the agreement’s performance criteria. That’s very quick action, given the major structural changes that have been made to benefit the vehicle occupants.”

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