By Colleen Kave, J.D.
A report on the actions taken over the past year by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and 18 automobile manufacturers pursuant to a set of proactive safety principles adopted in January 2016, has been released by NHTSA. The report, entitled Proactive Safety Principles: A Year in Review highlights some of the progress stimulated by those safety principles, which were crafted as a response to unprecedented recall and enforcement activity and were intended to improve the safety culture of the automobile industry by exploring a more effective dialogue on cross-industry safety issues and trends; to foster proactive safety solutions; and to enhance timely, consistent issue identification.
The first proactive safety principle, Enhance and Facilitate Proactive Safety, aimed to emphasize and actively encourage processes that promote steady improvement in vehicle safety and quality within organizations across the industry and with other stakeholders. NHTSA listed several events that furthered this goal, including a commitment by 20 automobile manufacturers to provide automatic emergency braking (AEB) in nearly all passenger vehicles by 2022; the release of the Federal Automated Vehicles Policy that will guide the safe testing and deployment of automated vehicles while promoting innovation; NHTSA’s efforts with the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS) to advance the deployment of the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety; and the "Vehicle Safety Training Best Practices Workshop" hosted by Fiat Chrysler (FCA, US), where 12 global automakers gathered to discuss, learn about, and share current approaches for improving vehicle safety training.
The second safety principle, Enhance Analysis and Examination of EWR Data, was designed to incorporate advanced methods in data analytics into the analyses and examinations of Early Warning Reporting (EWR) data to better identify potential risks earlier. In addition to NHTSA’s continued implementation of a Corporate Information Factory (CIF) to integrate multiple databases that facilitate data mining across internal and external data sources, sharing of best practices in data analytics took place at the Advancing Safety Through Data Conference, which was hosted by FCA, Honda, and the IIHS.
The third safety principle, Maximize Safety Recall Participation Rates, sought to explore and employ new ways to increase safety recall participation rates by the public by working toward the aspirational goal of 100-percent participation. Among the efforts undertaken to achieve that goal were NHTSA’s launch of the national Safe Cars Save Lives recall campaign and bus tour; the addition of the Takata Spotlight section on SaferCar.gov to highlight consumer information on airbag recalls; the creation of the Takata Monitoring Group to increase outreach efforts to owners of vehicles impacted by the Takata airbag inflator recalls; and two Automotive Safety Recall Best Practices Summits hosted by FCA.
The final safety principle, Enhance Automotive Cybersecurity, focuses on emphasizing and actively encouraging processes that promote steady improvement in vehicle safety and quality within organizations across the industry and with other stakeholders. To further those goals, NHTSA convened a Cybersecurity Roundtable in Washington, DC, where cybersecurity experts gathered to discuss standards and best practices; NHTSA issued a proposed guidance on cybersecurity best practices in October 2016; and the automotive industry set up an information sharing and analysis center (ISAC) to identify and share vulnerabilities across the industry.
NHTSA concluded that the work completed in 2016 constituted solid first steps in improving the safety culture of the auto industry, and the agency remains committed to promoting cross-industry communications on safety issues.
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