Backseat Driver : The Role of Data in Great Car Safety Debates book cover
1st Edition

Backseat Driver
The Role of Data in Great Car Safety Debates

ISBN 9780367472306
Published August 24, 2022 by Chapman & Hall
200 Pages 67 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Buying the safest car for your family shouldn’t be up for debate.

Yet for decades, car safety advocates, manufacturers, and lawmakers in the United States have clashed over whether to make automobiles safer. All sides armed themselves with data in the hopes of winning the great car safety debates. In this way, crash statistics and the analysts who studied them made history. But data were always in the backseat, merely supporting different points of view. That is, until now.

With car safety, it’s the value we place on every human life that counts.

Automobile safety expert Dr. Norma Faris Hubele delivers a lively discussion of the role data play in protecting you and your family on the road. You’ll gain a greater appreciation for how:

  • A World War I pilot’s near-death experience birthed the U.S. car safety movement
  • Data from real car crashes helped create the first vehicle safety standards
  • A shift toward fuel-efficient cars affected fatality risk in the 1970s–1980s versus now
  • Vehicle size has changed, and the problems that creates for you and others sharing the road
  • Car safety rating systems, even when limited, empower consumers and motivate manufacturers
  • Federal regulators decide whether to issue a safety recall on your vehicle
  • Data’s role is evolving with the advent of driver-assist and self-driving technologies

Further information can be found on the book's website: [US only].

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction. Chapter 2 A Strange Start for a Movement. Chapter 3 Crash Data Make a Difference. Chapter 4 Measuring Progress with Data. Chapter 5 The Roof Crush Resistance Debate. Chapter 6 The Incompatibility Debate. Chapter 7 The Fuel Efficiency Debate. Chapter 8 The Safety Ratings Debate. Chapter 9 Two Recall Debates. Chapter 10 The Automated Driver-Assistance Systems Debate. Chapter 11 The Self-Driving Car Debate. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. FURTHER READING. GLOSSARY OF SELECTED TERMS. INDEX.

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Norma Faris Hubele, PhD has served over 30 years as a professor, consumer advocate, and automotive safety expert. She was the first director of strategic initiatives at the Fulton School of Engineering at Arizona State University, where she is now a Professor Emerita. An expert witness in over 120 car safety cases, Dr. Hubele has educated the courts about when statistics can or cannot inform decisions. She is a co-author of a widely used textbook, Engineering Statistics. Dr. Hubele is founder and CEO of, a free website for new car safety ratings and information.