Responding to US President Donald Trump’s claim last week that a so-called ‘bowling ball’ test is preventing US vehicles from entering the Japanese market, Global NCAP has written to the American President to make “American First” in pedestrian protection. The bowling ball test that President Trump was referring to is the United Nation’s Global Technical Regulation on pedestrian protection (GTR No 9) that is applicable in Europe and Japan. In its letter, Global NCAP said that the United States too should adopt the same global UN GTR No 9 test for new vehicles that have been applied in Japan and the European Union (EU) since 2005. The test aims to mitigate the risk of head injury by encouraging deformation of the hood.
The letter by Global NCAP stated in its letter that a similar test was proposed by the US’ National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) in December 2015, to be a part of the US New Car Assessment Program. The NHTSA had noted that pedestrian protection measures in Europe and Japan “have likely contributed to a downward trend in pedestrian fatalities” and also argued that “Including pedestrian protection in the [US] NCAP program would be a step toward realizing similar downward trends experienced in regions of the world that include pedestrians in their consumer information programs.” While the proposal seemed convincing, it is yet to be part of the standard tests in the US NCAP.
Secretary-General of Global NCAP, David Ward, in the letter encouraged President Trump to treat the UN GTR No 9 as a “matter of urgency”. He emphasised that the American auto manufacturers exporting products to the EU are already meeting these requirements and it does not pose a technological challenge for them. The letter further read that “adopting global standards would help both to make American pedestrians safer and increase the export potential of US manufacturers.”
As per Global NCAP, the pedestrian fatalities in the US have increased in the past consecutive years and now amounted to 6000 lives lost per year, while accounting for 16 per cent of total road deaths. The organisation strongly agreed that NHTSA’s assessment of 2015 should be taken up by the US NCAP to reduce the number of pedestrian-related accidents each year.