Author(s): Dalmotas, German
Historically, data related to motor vehicle safety generated by Canadian government regulators has been shared extensively with the equivalent authorities in the United States. This has provided opportunities for Canadian research findings to be integrated into regulations affecting the entire North American vehicle fleet as well as addressing this country’s specific interests. While Transport Canada continues to have the possibility of improving the technical basis of the US-led programs through its research, this can only be accomplished through the adoption of an open and transparent policy towards the dissemination of its crash test and collision investigation data. Unfortunately, although the Department professes to provide “responsible” disclosure, in actual practice, there continues to be a degradation of transparency and public scrutiny of the data being generated in Canada. Conversely, the openness practiced in the US benefits all stakeholders.
Data from motor-vehicle crash tests conducted for the purposes of both regulatory compliance and safety research, and that from real-world collision investigations, need to be widely shared. By implementing an approach similar to the US, which provides full disclosure of such data, Transport Canada could provide a platform allowing external stakeholders to build on the findings of its work, increasing the potential for further enhancement of the safety of motor vehicle occupants.
Senior management in the Canadian Department of Transport and in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration must be made aware of the shortcomings in the present data systems. Researchers in academic institutions and non-governmental agencies need to be aware of the scope of the data that could be made available and the opportunities to make use of this information for both research and teaching purposes.
The paper will provide an overview of the motor vehicle safety data that is available, highlight the mechanisms through which these data are currently disseminated or are otherwise made available, and discuss how these processes might be improved.
The paper will provide a rational approach to the manner in which the use of existing motor vehicle safety data can be significantly enhanced. Past examples where data sharing has proven extremely effective in modifying safety regulations and practices will be provided, together with details of current situations where the lack of data integration is an impediment to safety.