Vehicle Design for Fire Safety and Evaluation of Design Trade-Offs 2007-01-0879
Existing vehicle design guidelines for fire safety can be found in government and industry standards and are often interpreted in product liability law suits. In this paper, the authors review the nature of the guidelines and conclude that they are inconsistently interpreted and insufficiently articulated for the optimization of fire safety design. Cooperation is also often inhibited by the differing perspectives of government and industry and the adversarial nature of the legal system. Clarification of design principles that are agreed upon by industry and government, and applied uniformly by the courts would necessarily enhance the safety of vehicles and efficiency of resource allocation. Because risk can never be fully eliminated, agreement can only be achieved if there is an understanding of “acceptable risk” to balance the motivations of safety and profit. Application of ethical decision-making models and examples of approaches used in other settings are explored and a process by which such principles can be established in vehicle design for fire safety is proposed. The authors hope that this proposal will inspire a dialogue within the motor vehicle safety community that will ultimately lead to enhanced vehicle safety and design efficiency.