As Cars Get Stronger, Jaws Of Life Have To Be Tougher

November 20, 2012 9:04 AM

As Cars Get Stronger, Jaws Of Life Have To Be Tougher

" Traffic fatality rates are as low as they’ve ever been. That’s in part because of increasingly high standards set by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and government regulators. More airbags, new seatbelt laws, and crackdowns on drunk driving have all played a role in reducing the number of Americans killed on roadways.

Stronger steel has played a part, too. In fact, according to Detroit News, that metal has been key in helping many automakers earn “good” ratings on the IIHS rollover test, which requires that car roofs be able to support four times a vehicle’s weight. The IIHS says that rollovers account for roughly 10,000 deaths in America each year, or about one-third of current fatalities.

There is, however, a downside: that stronger steel makes it much more difficult for rescue personnel to remove victims from damaged vehicles. The Jaws of Life — an assortment of hydraulic tools that cut, ram, and spread open crushed cars — are commonplace among fire departments and other emergency response units, but older versions of that equipment have a tough time getting through increasingly strong steel "

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