Products Liability Law Daily Transportation Secretary Foxx announces agreement with automakers on ‘Proactive Safety Principles’
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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Transportation Secretary Foxx announces agreement with automakers on ‘Proactive Safety Principles’

By John Dumoulin

Speaking at the North American International Auto Show Press Event in Detroit, Michigan, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced the issuing of a set of “Proactive Safety Principles” that have been agreed to by the Department of Transportation (DOT), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and 18 automakers. Foxx described the principles as “a historic agreement on a set of broad-ranging actions to help make our roads safer and help avoid the sort of safety crisis that generates the wrong kind of record-setting and headlines.” He indicated that these principles are intended to help catch safety defects early, before they produce massive recalls (Statement of Secretary Foxx, January 15, 2016).

Safety principles. The preamble to the Proactive Safety Principles stated that today’s vehicles are safer than they have ever been, noting that since the passage of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act in 1966, fatalities as a share of miles travelled are down 80 percent and are down 26 percent over the past decade alone. The preamble went on to say, however, that “we must not be complacent,” since 32,675 people lost their lives on our nation’s roadways in 2014. The conclusion of the preamble stated that by issuing these safety principles, “automakers and NHTSA are reaffirming our resolve to leverage our collective strength and knowledge to work collaboratively, consistent with the law, to further enhance the safety of the traveling public.”

The preamble is followed by the “Statement of Principles,” which lists four principles, along with the objective for each and ways to implement it. The four principles are: (1) enhance and facilitate proactive safety; (2) enhance analysis and examination of early warning reporting data; (3) maximize safety recall participation rates; and (4) enhance automotive cybersecurity.

Enhance and facilitate proactive safety. The objective for this principle is to continue to emphasize and actively encourage processes that promote steady improvement in vehicle safety and quality. The principles suggest that this can be achieved by such things as improved communications between industry and the government on cross-industry safety issues and trends to foster proactive solutions; timely and consistent safety-related issue identification through periodic information exchanges about recall-related decision-making processes; and examining the existing aviation industry voluntary/anonymous safety information reporting system to understand whether such an approach could be utilized in the auto sector.

Enhance analysis and examination of early warning reporting data. The objective for the second principle is to continue to incorporate advanced methods in data analytics into the analyses and examinations of Early Warning Reporting (EWR) data to better identify potential risks earlier. Suggested ways of doing this are to: (1) examine whether existing advanced analytical tools and procedures can be used to proactively analyze EWR data to assist in the analysis of potential safety-related issues; and (2) participate in an NHTSA/Industry working group to analyze the quality and use of EWR as it currently exists.

Maximize safety recall participation rates. The third principle aims to explore and employ new ways to increase safety recall participation rates by the public. Suggested ways to implement this objective are sharing industry best practices, tactics and policies based on lessons learned from ongoing safety recalls; leveraging best practices identified to increase public awareness of ongoing recalls; and inviting other stakeholders to collaborate with automakers and NHTSA to improve safety recall participation rates.

Enhance automotive cyber security. The final principle has the objective of exploring and employing ways to work collaboratively to mitigate cyber threats. The document suggests implementing this objective by developing suggested best practices that reflect lessons learned within and outside of the auto industry; developing appropriate means for engaging with cybersecurity researchers; and supporting and evolving the auto industry’s information sharing and analysis center in several specified ways.

In a final section entitled “Commitment to Work Collaboratively,” the document states that “automakers and NHTSA are committing to work together to develop a collaborative, data-driven, science-based process, consistent with the law, to advance these objectives and thereby we are emphasizing our commitment to further enhancing the safety of roadway users.”

Companies: American Honda Motor Company, Inc.; BMW of North America, LLC; FCA US LLC; Ford Motor Co.; General Motors; Hyundai Motor America; Jaguar Land Rover North America LLC; Kia Motors America, Inc.; Mazda North American Operations; Mercedes–Benz USA, LLC; Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc.; Nissan North America, Inc.; Porsche Cars North America, Inc.; Subaru of America, Inc.; Tesla Motors, Inc.; Toyota Motor North America, Inc.; Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.; Volvo Cars USA

MainStory: TopStory IndustryNews MotorVehiclesNews

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