International Harmonization of Research:Countries Working Together for Higher Levels of Safety in Passenger Vehicles 982268
Motor Vehicle safety regulations in the United States and other industrialized countries have evolved over the last three decades in order to meet the demands for increased traffic safety. The safety regulations that exist today are, in many respects, not harmonized. Because multiplicity of vehicle safety requirements do not allow manufacturers to use common vehicle designs across global markets and because the motor vehicle industry is more globalized now, there is the need for harmonized regulations more so now than ever before. At the same time, safety concerns related to human injuries and fatalities in passenger vehicles are similar in industrialized countries where a large number of vehicles are in use for transportation, in spite of differences in fleets and roadways.
This paper examines the regulatory processes in the United States and Europe. It presents a cursory analysis of the existing vehicle safety standards to show the potential for harmonization. It also presents a unique approach to achieve harmonization of safety standards through harmonization of safety research. The paper describes a new initiative, the International Harmonized Research Activities (IHRA), implemented by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), to conduct safety research to avoid duplication and to develop an agreed-upon scientific basis for future vehicle safety standards development.