President of HANS comments on drag and short track track safety Jim Downing, the former sports car driver and principal of the HANS device (head and neck support) said that short tracks and drag strips are deficient due to "lack of proper safety equipment." Downing, president of HANS Performance Products said, at the IMIS Safety and Technical Conference in Indianapolis that driver fatalities on those tracks have been increasing because those types of tracks lag the safety equipment required at the bigger ovals.
Downing based his opinion on a Charlotte Observer study titled "Death at the Track," in the years 1991 to 2001 the total number of driver deaths from crashes was 144. During the ten-year period after Earnhardt's death, the total rose to 171, an alarming increase of 27 driver fatalities due to racing accidents. Part of the problem, Downing opined, was due to the fact that these type of local tracks are not televised so that news of injuries or fatalities don't make it into the mainstream media. The safety needs to improve on short ovals and on drag strips where weekend warriors are participating and where the most deaths are occurring, said Downing. Of the 171 deaths during the years 2001 to 2011, 126 occurred on these types of tracks. SAFER barriers may not be feasible, said Downing, but his presentation documented that 34 of the deaths involved the type of head and neck injuries prevented by Head and Neck Restraints. Auto123
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