As Busy Summer Travel Season Arrives, Americans Focus on Safety: Survey Shows Seat Belts, Steel Frame, Airbags, Steel Side-Impact Beams Protect Best

WASHINGTON, June 27 /PRNewswire/ — As Americans plan a record number of auto-related trips this summer, they are turning their attention to car safety. And a new survey focusing on car features finds that Americans rate seat belts, steel frames, airbags and steel side-impact beams as the most effective in protecting people in a crash.

The just-released survey of 1,000 adults, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Iron and Steel Institute, reveals that when asked which automobile materials provide the best protection, 83 percent of respondents chose steel, a clear leader over plastic and fiberglass, at 4 percent each and aluminum, 3 percent. Moreover, 82 percent of respondents consider seat belts effective for passenger safety, followed by a car’s steel frame (67%), airbags (63%) and steel side-impact beams (59%).

The survey’s findings come as a record number of auto trips are planned between June and September, when auto fatalities traditionally are the highest. In their annual summer travel forecast, the Travel Industry Association of America and the American Automobile Association expect Americans to take 2.1 percent more auto-related trips this year, despite high gasoline prices. Four in five summer leisure trips will be by car, the survey indicates.

“We in the steel industry are passionate about automotive safety — and the steel cage of your car is the last line of defense for you and your passengers,” said Bill Heenan, president of the AISI’s Steel Recycling Institute. “Further, recent industry research finds that juggling lots of responsibilities while driving is the behavior most likely to contribute to an accident. So please don’t multi-task while driving.”

In fact, a recent AISI study entitled “Nerves of Steel” that surveyed 2,400 licensed drivers across 20 cities cited multitasking as one of the most hazardous behaviors in the car. Those surveyed admitting to performing personal or work-related tasks in the car such as consuming food and beverages; reading or using a hand-held cellular phone. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that distracted driving is a factor in 25% of all traffic accidents reported to police.

“The steel industry is focused on automotive safety — and we want drivers to be focused on the road,” concludes Heenan. “This summer, we’d like to help steer drivers in a new direction — let’s all slow down, act more courteously and keep our attention on driving safely.”

AISI serves as the voice of the North American steel industry in the public policy arena and advances the case for steel in the marketplace as the preferred material of choice. AISI also plays a lead role in the development and application of new steels and steelmaking technology. AISI is comprised of 32 member companies, including integrated and electric furnace steelmakers, and 118 associate and affiliate members who are suppliers to or customers of the steel industry. AISI’s member companies represent approximately 75 percent of both U.S. and North American steel capacity. For more information and tips about summer driving visit AISI’s Web site at http://www.steel.org/summersafety

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