Article ID: CBB597119124

Constructing Crashworthiness. The Experimental Safety Vehicle (ESV) Program and the Global Renegotiation of Automobile Safety in the 1970s (Die Konstruktion von „Crashworthiness”. Das Experimental-Safety-Vehicle-(ESV)-Programm und die globale Neuverhandlung automobiler Sicherheit in den 1970er Jahren) (2020)


Esselborn, Stefan (Author)

Technikgeschichte: Beiträge zur Geschichte der Technik und Industrie
Volume: 87
Issue: 1
Pages: 11-42

Publication Date: 2020
Edition Details: Issue Theme: Introduction: Auto-Mobilities. Automation, Safety and Responsibility in the History of Mobility / Einleitung: Auto-Mobilities. Automatisierung, Sicherheit und Verantwortung in der Geschicht e der Mobilität
Language: English

The article proposes to take a fresh look at the global ascent of “crashworthiness” as a “dominant paradigm” (Peter Norton) of automobile safety by focusing on the so-called Experimental Safety Vehicle (ESV) program of the early 1970s. Initiated by the U.S. Department of Transport (DOT) and internationalized through the newly created NATO Committee for the Challenges of Modern Society (CCMS), the scheme ultimately came to involve the governments of all major car-producing countries, as well as practically all relevant automobile corporations in the capitalist “West”. The ESV program provided a significant boost to automobile safety research and contributed to the professionalization, institutionalization and standardization of the field. It also supplied a platform for a transnational re-negotiation of the distribution of responsibility for automobile safety, in which differences between engineering cultures and user perceptions in North American and Europe/Japan came to the fore. In this context, the experimental prototypes functioned as “evidence objects”, which different actors could use to generate and validate technical knowledge, but also to make economic and political arguments. By serving as material anchorage points for a transnational techno-political debate, the ESVs played an important part in shaping the way in which the challenge of “crashworthiness” influenced automobile safety practices worldwide. , Der Beitrag untersucht die globale Karriere der „Crashworthiness“ bzw. „passiven Sicherheit“ als neuem Paradigma (Peter Norton) der automobilen Sicherheit aus der Perspektive des sogenannten ‚Experimental Safety Vehicle (ESV)‘-Programms der frühen 1970er Jahre. Initiiert vom US-ame- rikanischen Department of Transport (DOT) und internationalisiert über das neugeschaffene Committee for the Challenges of Modern Society (CCMS) der NATO konnte das Projekt letztlich die Regierungen aller Länder mit einer nennenswerten Automobilindustrie sowie praktisch alle wichtigen Automobilfirmen des kapitalistischen „Westens“ zu den Teilnehmern zählen. Das ESV- Programm beschleunigte die Entwicklung spezifischer technischer Lösungen und trug zur Professionalisierung, Institutionalisierung und Standardisierung der Forschung zum Thema automobile Sicherheit bei. Es bot außerdem eine Plattform für die globale Neuaushandlung der Verantwortung für Sicherheit im Straßenverkehr, die Unterschiede zwischen den Ingenieurskulturen und Nutzererwartungen in Nordamerika und Europa bzw. Japan freilegte. Die experimentellen Prototypen selbst fungierten in diesem Zusammenhang als „Evidenzobjekte“, die von verschiedenen Akteuren sowohl zur Datengenerierung und zur Validierung technischen Wissens, als auch zur Untermauerung ökonomischer und politischer Argumente genutzt wurden. Als materielle Ankerpunkte einer globalen techno-politischen Debatte prägten die ESV die Art und Weise entscheidend mit, in der die Idee der „Crashworthiness“ auf globale Praktiken der automobilen Sicherheit durchschlug.

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Authors & Contributors
Moguen-Toursel, Marine
Quinn, Terry J.
Sterne, Jonathan
Hagood, Mack
Russell, Andrew Lawrence
Leslie, Stuart W.
Technikgeschichte: Beiträge zur Geschichte der Technik und Industrie
Business and Economic History On-Line
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
HOST: Journal of History of Science and Technology
Technology and Culture
Oxford University Press
Duke University Press
Johns Hopkins University
MIT Press
University of California Press
Standardization and standards
Automobile safety
Western world, civilization and culture
Lin, Tsung-Yi
Madkour, I.
Earhart, Amelia
Time Periods
20th century
21st century
19th century
20th century, late
20th century, early
United States
Valencia (Spain)
European Union
International Bureau of Weights and Measures
World Health Organization (WHO)

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