Sturdier cars make it harder for rescuers

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Automakers have been shoring up vehicles with lighter and stronger materials designed to save lives.

It's working but it's also making it harder for rescue workers to cut into mangled wrecks.

Rescue officials and experts nationwide tell The Associated Press that vehicles built with reinforced steel and other safety measures are making it harder to get people out. One answer is better rescue equipment. It's also more expensive. A heavy-duty cutter and power unit from Hurst costs about $25,000.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says any tradeoff involving tougher cars is well worth it in terms of lives saved. A spokesman says the fatality rate for passenger vehicles is the lowest in history.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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