In the U.S., 95 percent of households own a car. With such a vast majority of Americans driving, safety has to be considered a top priority. In recent years, the auto industry has seen much criticism regarding quality and recalls. Fortunately for the 95 percent of us that spend regular time on the roads, a monumental agreement between the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and 17 automakers has been reached in order to increase security measures for vehicles being manufactured here in the states.
In mid-January, a four-part plan was developed that demands increased transparency from automakers about potential safety issues and recall notices associated with their product. The plan also calls for reporting on issues regarding cyber security. With more and more contemporary vehicles relying on the use of various wireless technologies to amp up the riding experience, the risk of hackers attacking vulnerable end-points also increases.
Previously, the auto-industry hasn’t always been forthcoming in admitting its weaknesses. That’s what makes this plan so important. DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx announced, “Today DOT and the automakers represented here are taking a strong stance in favor of a new approach, an approach that leans heavily on being proactive and less heavily on being reactive.” This shift from being reactive to being proactive is tantamount in enhancing public safety. Rather than waiting for issues to happen, the auto-industry claims to start regularly updating the drivers of America about what they should and shouldn’t be on the look-out for.
Car Makers Are Becoming More Proactive About Safety
In 2014, 64 million vehicles were recalled in the US alone. This put the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) into the line of fire. Drivers became critical that the vehicles were not recalled quickly enough. In response to these recalls, the NHTSA began imposing harsher fines on automakers. With such a large percentage of the nation buying cars, this approach is far more productive, because many car companies who have experienced these fines are still in business despite the punishment. “Real safety is finding and fixing defects before someone gets hurt rather than punishing them after damage is done,” Foxx said.
The pledge was modeled after safety initiatives developed by the aviation industry. The Federal Aviation Administration regularly meets with the purpose of discussing safety and risk management. These efforts have shown to lower rates of plane accidents and crashes. Now the auto industry is jumping on board and organizing “cross-company” to implement similar safety measures.
This is not the first instance of proactive safety in the auto-industry, however. In 2015, 10 car companies opted to install automatic emergency braking as a standard safety measure in all of their cars. The decision preceded any federal regulations demanding it. This was an example of the auto-industry taking safety precautions upon themselves to implement. This new measure is an example of industry and regulators coming together in an unprecedented way for automakers.
Revolutionary Move for the U.S. Auto Industry
General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp are a few of the major car manufacturers signed on to the new safety pledge. The plan is meant to encourage cooperation between these big players and others; in order to share effective measures with each other when it comes to notifying the public about vehicle recalls.
The teamwork happening amongst companies that would consider themselves competitors is fairly revolutionary. Normally, companies working to out-sell one another would not find a benefit to sharing tips and tricks. In the case of this agreement, public welfare is being put ahead of capital. We should all be relieved to see safety at the forefront of auto manufacturers’ minds!
GM CEO Mary Barra referred to the collaboration as a “historical moment.”
According to Business Insider, Foxx echoed this sentiment: “Perhaps years from now we will look back at this moment as a moment when, at a time when there may have been some skepticism about the safety of the automotive industry in general, the industry stepped up and made a hard pivot with us towards a more proactive culture.”
Hopefully, this will be one step of many dedicated to improving public safety. With expectations of self-driving cars around the corner and many other technological advancements being made in the ways we get from A to B, driving safety is important now more than ever. This pledge may very well set a precedent for new ways for industries to collaborate with regulations rather than combat them.