The major study was commissioned by the car industry to show that existing EU and US safety standards were broadly similar. But the research actually established that American models are much less safe when it comes to front-side collisions, a common cause of accidents that often result in serious injuries.
The more important part of an article in British newspaper The Independent. Here’s a link to the whole article. I considered this interesting, as you read a lot about the supposed lack of safety of non-USDM vehicles as the main reason they aren’t allowed in.
I always assumed the regulations were mostly different, as evidenced by the airbag/seatbelt requirements. If I remember correctly the US requires a manufacturer to design an airbag safe for people who both do and don’t wear a seatbelt, while the EU market just requires this for people who do wear their seatbelt. Result: a US market car will be safer for those who don’t wear a seatbelt while the EU market car will be safer for those who do wear a seatbelt due to optimization, and not having to take unbelted people into account.
Anyway, due to this whole diesel gate I suspect this story will be buried. How much of it will be true?
edit: here’s a link(PDF alert!) to the university of Michigan’s website, with the full rapport.
The results suggest that when controlling for differences in environment and exposure, vehicles meeting EU standards offer reduced risk of serious injury in frontal/side crashes and have driver-side mirrors that reduce risk in lane-change crashes better, while vehicles meeting US standards provide a lower risk of injury in rollovers and have headlamps that make pedestrians more conspicuous.