In-Vehicle Technologies to the Rescue

NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind and U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced a proposed $4 billion federal investment to accelerate the development of safe vehicle automation.

Kudos to the National Transportation Safety Board for highlighting the benefits of new technologies in its 2016 Most Wanted List of transportation safety improvements. When the board issued it Jan. 13, it called the updated list a "road map from lessons learned to lives saved." With U.S. traffic deaths trending up last year—as of November 2015, estimated fatalities were 8.1 percent higher than the year before—it's clear we still have lots of room for improvement. While NTSB's recommendations cover all transportation modes and the board called for increased use of data recorders in all modes, what's happening in motor vehicle design is worth noting.

NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind highlighted this Jan. 12 when he spoke at Automotive News' World Congress in Detroit. "There may be no stronger sign of proactive safety than the steps industry is taking to incorporate crash avoidance technology," he said, according to the text posted by NHTSA. "The potential safety benefits of these innovations are hard to overstate. For more than a century, vehicle safety has meant assuming that crashes are inevitable and designing to protect occupants from the consequences. Now, increasingly, technology can prevent those crashes from ever occurring."

At the Detroit auto show the same week, he and U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced a proposed $4 billion federal investment to accelerate the development of safe vehicle automation, as well as solutions to the issues that will arise from self-driving cars. Rosekind also cited automatic emergency braking, which 10 vehicle manufacturers have agreed should be a standard feature in new vehicles; the auto industry's Information Sharing and Analysis Center focused on identifying any cybersecurity vulnerabilities; and encouraging the development of the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, which would instantly detect a driver's alcohol impairment when the driver tries to start a vehicle.

NTSB's announcement of its 2016 list called data recorders "our most powerful tool to learn safety lessons from accidents."

This article originally appeared in the March 2016 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

About the Author

Jerry Laws is Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine, which is owned by 1105 Media Inc.

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