Outdated automotive manufacturing regulations cost the lives of more than 600 people per year in Mexico, where the most popular cars sold are also the most dangerous.
Manufacturing regulations are 20 years behind when compared to those of the United States or Europe, resulting in poor security measures and design flaws in many of the vehicles sold in Mexico, according to the vehicle safety assessment program Latin NCAP.
The New Car Assessment Program found that the most dangerous models are the Nissan Tsuru and Chevrolet Aveo. Both are also the most popular, according to the Mexican Automotive Industry Association (AMIA).
“We can affirm that safety levels are low and worrying in Mexico,” said the general secretary of Latin NCAP, “particularly when compared with other countries of the region like Argentina or Brazil.
“Today,” said Alejandro Furas, “Mexico is demanding less in vehicular safety than Europe did 20 years ago.”
Until now, auto makers were not legally required to improve the quality of their products because there were no regulatory standards in place, and entities such as the consumer protection agency Profeco or the Mexican Automotive Dealers Association (AMDA) weren’t responsible for enforcing any such standards.
After a tally of over 4,000 deaths between 2007 and 2012 that were caused by poor vehicle safety, the federal government has issued an official Mexican standard that demands that assemblers make use of available technologies to guarantee maximum safety for car owners and their passengers.
According to the recently published standard, new vehicles sold in Mexico must have an ABS braking system, airbags and a dashboard reminder to wear seatbelts, among other stipulations.
However, while all auto makers in Mexico must comply with the standard, it doesn’t take effect until 2019, which surprised and disappointed representatives of Latin NCAP.
The consumer advocacy organization believes the three-year period to be unnecessary on the grounds that the Mexican automotive industry is capable of complying with the new standard immediately. It already exports vehicles to the United States and Europe, whose safety requirements are similar.
“It is sad that the Mexican government didn’t hear the voice of the consumers of Mexico, and the important opinion of the Health Secretariat, who demanded better safety levels be applied as soon as possible,” said Furas.
“It is even worse to see how the Mexican government accepts the automotive industry’s stalling strategies. Many Mexican lives will be lost due to this delay.”