Saturday, February 05, 2005

Costs and Benefits Over the Road

BrooklynDodger continues to investigate off-the-job safety, taking to heart the National Safety Council’s implication that it is safer to work in an auto factory than to drive one of the cars made therein. NIOSH and OSHA have also announced intentions to devote resources – necessarily diverted from real on the job safety and health – to alliances with employers around employee driving. Behavior is a very low level of control. It's important to understand the higher level of controls, engineering controls.

NHTSA’s recently published report informs this investigation. The comments below will reserve BrooklynDodger’s thinking about contrasts between on-the-job safety and health approaches and over-gthe-road. In addition, BrooklynDodger continues to hate cost benefit analysis, of which cost per life saved analysis depicted here is a variant. Once in a while, someone else figuring out the costs may have some value.

The most interesting part of the report is the list of engineering controls installed in vehicles which contribute to the prevention of death and injury.


1. NHTSA has adopted a $3,000,000 per life saved risk management policy. Where did that come from? Presumably, a change won’t be ordered if the lives saved are less.

2. By these methods, in 2002, the payment per life saved was $544,000.

3. The 3 million and 500 thousand become a price points for talking about other public health interventions in other arenas.

4. The cost of safety devices per vehicle was in the range of $800. About 20,000 lives were saved, compared to about 32,000 lives not saved.

5. These devices mainly protect the person purchasing the vehicle, and that person’s passengers. The buyer who is forced to buy self-protection but might have volunteered at some price benefits from the economies for scale requiring everyone to buy the same equipment. BrooklynDodger figures the lower cost is somehow a benefit of regulation.

6. BrooklynDodger wants to know how many jobs were created by the fabrication and installation of the $800 worth of stuff.


NHTSA Report Number DOT HS 809 835 December 2004

Cost Per Life Saved By The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards

Charles J. Kahane, Ph.D. The complete report is available here in pdf format.

Two reports summarize the benefits and costs of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). The first report estimates that the FMVSS and other safety technologies saved 328,551 lives in calendar years 1960-2002, including 24,561 in 2002. The second report estimates that the FMVSS added $839 (in 2002 Dollars) to the cost of a car in model year 2001 and $711 to the cost of an LTV.

During calendar year 2002, the core FMVSS saved 20,851 lives, some in these model year 2002 vehicles, but most in earlier vehicles already on the road before 2002. Thus, in 2002 the payment per life saved was $544,000.

The core group of technologies cost an estimated $544,000 (in 2002 Dollars) per life saved in 2002. These numbers indicate the FMVSS are, on the whole, highly cost-effective, far below the $3,000,000 per life saved that the Department of Transportation considers acceptable.

Safety improvements with costs not included are:

Improvements to mid- and lower instrument panels that were never actually required by FMVSS 201.

Voluntary improvements to belts and other systems that improved performance on the frontal NCAP test.

Structural improvements in 2-door cars that reduced TTI(d) in side impact tests, on a voluntary basis, well before the dynamic test was added to FMVSS 214.:

High-penetration resistant (HPR) windshields, on all vehicles by 1966, subsequently incorporated into FMVSS 205.

Improvements to door locks, generally completed well before 1968, subsequently regulated by FMVSS 206.

Front disc brakes, a technology related to FMVSS 105.

Adhesive windshield bonding, a technology related to FMVSS 212.

Conspicuity tape for heavy trailers (FMVSS 108): car and LTV occupants benefit from not hitting the trailers, but the cost accrues on the trailers.

Child safety seats (FMVSS 213): they must be purchased separately and are not part of the cost of a new car or LTV.

The dynamic side-impact test requirement of FMVSS 214: cost studies have been completed, but the estimation of benefits is still underway.

3-point belts for rear-center occupants: benefits are included in the lives-saved report, but cost has not yet been estimated.

The “core” group of safety technologies with costs included:
Dual master cylinders (FMVSS 105)

Energy-absorbing steering assemblies (FMVSS 203/204)

Every type of safety belt at any seat position (FMVSS 208), except 3-point belts for rear-center occupants. Although it is true that lap belts were widely introduced before 1968, much of the impetus came from State laws or regulations. These State laws may be considered Government actions that are “predecessors” of the FMVSS. (But only the costs and benefits from 1968 onward will be included in the core group.) Of course, the FMVSS have played a direct role in many of the improvements to belt systems after 1968 that increased their effectiveness, use and consumer acceptance.

Frontal air bags (FMVSS 208) and on-off switches for passenger air bags in pickup trucks.

Side door beams, regulated by the static test requirement of FMVSS 214.

Roof crush strength, passenger cars (FMVSS 216).

Side marker lamps (FMVSS 108)

Center High Mounted Stop Lamps (FMVSS 108)

Head restraints (FMVSS 202)

Fuel system integrity (FMVSS 301)

Seat back locks in 2-door passenger cars (FMVSS 207)

Windshield washers, and upgraded wipers, for LTVs (FMVSS 104)

Safety devices for power windows (FMVSS 118)

Accelerator-pedal return systems (FMVSS 124)

Seatback padding to provide head impact protection for rear-seat occupants (FMVSS 201)

No comments: