TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (Aug. 4, 2016) — The auto industry has a tendency to lean heavily on technology solutions to improve safety, but changing human behavior must also be part of the solution, the nation's top safety regulator said Aug. 3.
Mark Rosekind, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), said the agency's long-term goal is to get to zero traffic deaths in the U.S. from the 35,200 killed in 2015.
“In the auto industry, we're always looking at changing the technology, because changing the human would be really hard,” Mr. Rosekind said in Traverse City Aug. 3 at the Center for Automotive Research's (CAR) Management Briefing Seminars. “We're not going to change us. We can change our behavior, but that is really hard.”
Instead, he argued, continually improving safety technology must go hand-in-hand with improving driver behavior to decrease traffic fatalities.
“The technology doesn't always work, and humans aren't always perfect, but I think the combination of the two could get us to zero,” Mr. Rosekind said.
The administrator's prepared remarks touched on a number of familiar themes:
- Ending “competition” between auto makers and suppliers on safety;
- Speeding democratization of safety technologies across the entire fleet of vehicles; and
- Developing cooperation between regulators and the regulated toward improving vehicle safety.
Mr. Rosekind said the relationship between NHTSA and the auto industry must become more proactive.
However, he said the agency still wields powerful tools to bring bad actors into line.
“We have a really big stick. I know where it is and I know how to use it,” Mr. Rosekind said. “But I'd rather work with people to do the things” to proactively improve vehicle safety.
He referenced recent successful collaborations — such as an agreement among 20 global manufacturers to implement automatic emergency braking technologies across almost all vehicles by 2022 — as evidence that collaboration is more effective than regulation.