About NHTSA

Advancing Traffic Safety Innovations

Advancing Traffic Safety Innovations Introduction
Advancing Traffic Safety Innovations

Introduction

Advancing Traffic Safety Innovations Report (PDF) PDF, 138.97 KB

The field of traffic safety must continually adapt to meet new challenges and identify ways to better address safety risks. In early 2015, NHTSA developed a new model of addressing these challenges. It brought together multi-disciplinary teams within NHTSA to look at traffic safety issues in a fresh way, and then convened a series of meetings and summits in 2015 and 2016 to identify novel approaches, tools and opportunities for improvement. Through these events, NHTSA also sought to foster the development a new paradigm in this country: one that would elevate traffic safety to the highest level.

NHTSA used its leadership position within the field to bring together key stakeholders for each particular safety issue. The meetings included representatives from the auto industry and other private sector employers, academia, grassroots organizations, safety advocacy groups, State and local government agencies, and public health and medical professions. The Agency also sought to identify new partners to bring to the table, and learn from the successes of other health or safety campaigns.  Equally important, NHTSA sought to engage the public by webcasting the events live when possible and providing means for contributing comments and ideas to the discussions.

The events were organized into three main categories: proactive vehicle safety, advanced vehicle technology, and addressing human factors. Events were held around the country to ensure the greatest outreach. The overriding theme was: Let’s come together to identify innovative approaches to address traffic safety. Given the alarming increase in fatalities seen in 2015, this is needed more than ever.

The results of these events will live on in the years to come. New partnerships have been forged, new ideas will be incorporated into NHTSA’s strategic plans, new tools have been developed. The momentum generated will support the development of a new collaborative safety culture within the auto industry and the Nation as a whole.

As our Nation sits on the cusp of a technological revolution in transportation, the time is right to put forth a bold, new vision: working toward the era of zero traffic fatalities.  

Proactive Vehicle Safety

Today’s motor vehicles are safer than ever. Vehicle safety technologies, including seat belts, have saved an estimated 613,501 lives since 1960 (Kahane, C. J. [2015, January]. Lives Saved by Vehicle Safety Technologies & Associated FMVSS, 1060 to 2012 – Passenger cars and LTVs [Report No. DOT HS 812 069]. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). But recent high-profile recall events have called that record into question. Proactive vehicle safety is about working with automakers to make sure they are prioritizing safety and building vehicles without dangerous defects. It seeks to move from a reactive model where defects are identified and remedied only after crashes or malfunctions occur, to a new model that promotes industry-wide collaboration to integrate best safety practices, and more data-sharing to quickly identify defect trends that cut across the industry. NHTSA will continue to vigilantly pursue and address vehicle defects to ensure vehicle safety. But in the long run, a system that can eliminate defects before a crash occurs will better serve the public. This new safety culture will entail greater consumer marketing outreach to vehicle owners about the need to get recalls repaired. The following events supported this new approach to proactive vehicle safety.

Retooling Recalls: Getting to 100% Completion

NHTSA convened a one-day workshop that brought together leading transportation officials, safety advocates, automotive industry representatives, and researchers to examine how to increase low recall completion rates. The workshop focused on public education of the recall process, customer and dealership outreach, parts production challenges and recall repair rates. The input gathered by the working groups will be used to identify best practices and new approaches for improving the recall process.

Date and location of event: 
4/28/15 - Washington, DC

Auto Industry CEO Summit

Secretary Foxx convened a meeting with CEOs and senior executives from 15 automakers to begin discussions on how to improve automobile safety by making a strong commitment to renewing consumer confidence through a more robust safety and security culture.

Date and location of event:
12/1/15 - Washington, DC

Proactive Safety Principles

The U. S. Department of Transportation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and 18 automobile manufacturers adopted an historic set of Proactive Safety Principles. Crafted as a response to unprecedented recall and enforcement activity, the group broadly committed to improving the safety culture of the industry by exploring a more effective dialog on cross-industry safety issues and trends to foster proactive safety solutions, and enhance timely, consistent issue identification.

Date and location of event:
1/15/2016 - Detroit, MI

Enhancing Safety Culture in Transportation: Lessons Learned from Aviation

NHTSA co-hosted this forum with FAA to show how the aviation industry evolved over the past 30 years to reduce fatalities by 83 percent. Leaders who helped affect this change focused on the historical perspective, critical cultural shifts, and trust building that occurred to transform safety culture in the aviation industry into what it is today.

Date and location of event:
4/22/16 - Washington, DC

Strengthening Recall Requirements for Rental Cars

A new Federal law, championed by NHTSA, went into effect prohibiting any company or dealer with fleets greater than 35 vehicles to rent out vehicles with unrepaired recall notices. The companies must fix all open safety defects on their vehicles before renting those vehicles to customers.

Date and location of event:
6/1/16 - Washington, DC

Safe Cars Safe Lives Bus Tour

The Administrator and NHTSA staff traveled from Florida to Texas to spread the word on the Takata air bag recall, tire safety, heatstroke and child safety seats, reaching nine cities in five days. More than 30 percent of the 422 vehicles checked along the tour had open recalls, and many of the drivers were unaware of the recalls. The tour also generated significant media attention to reach millions of other vehicle owners. It reached more than 9 million consumers through paid and earned media coverage.

Date and location of event:
8/9/16 - Miami, FL
8/9/16 - Orlando, FL
8/10/16 - Tampa, FL
8/10/16 - Tallahassee, FL
8/11/16 - Mobile, AL
8/12/16 - Houston, TX
8/12/16 - San Antonio, TX
8/13/16 - Ft. Worth, TX

Advanced Safety Technology

Advanced safety technology holds great promise to reducing crashes, fatalities and injuries associated with human error. The quicker this technology can get added to the national vehicle fleet, the more lives will be saved. NHTSA’s New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) has been upgraded to encourage automakers to add this technology. The program also helps to better inform the public about this new technology, and increase consumer demand.  At the same time, this technology could present new challenges, such as the need for new cybersecurity safety protocols. These events brought together industry and consumer groups to learn more about the changes to NCAP, ensure that all stakeholders have a place at the table as the new technology is developed, and to identify and address emerging challenges. 

Public hearings on planned upgrades to the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP)

NHTSA held two public hearings to engage stakeholders and solicit feedback on the planned upgrades to NCAP, also known as the 5-Star Safety Ratings program. The agency plans to revolutionize the way it crash-tests cars and rates vehicles to promote an even higher level of safety. Significant changes include an additional crash test, new and more human-like crash test dummies, the inclusion of advanced crash-avoidance technologies as part of the new ratings system, and pedestrian protection.

Date and location of event:
1/14/16 - Detroit, MI
1/29/16 - Washington, DC

Vehicle Cybersecurity Roundtable

To foster a proactive safety culture in the automotive industry, NHTSA held one-day roundtable discussion with industry and other experts to facilitate the development and adoption of vehicle cybersecurity standards and best practices. Experts from vehicle manufacturers, suppliers, technology companies, industry specialists, researchers, and government agencies came together to identify steps to address vehicle cybersecurity challenges effectively.

Date and location of event:
1/19/16 - Washington, DC

Automated Vehicle (AV) Guidance Public Meetings

NHTSA convened two public meetings to engage a wide range of stakeholders on the agency’s planned guidance to the auto industry on AVs. The meetings also provided an opportunity to provide input on the development and deployment of innovative and safe AV technologies.

Date and location of event:
4/8/16 - Washington, DC
4/27/16 - Stanford, CA

Addressing Human Factors

Research has shown that driver error plays a role in 94 percent of all crashes (Singh, S. [2015, February]. Critical reasons for crashes investigated in the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey. [Traffic Safety Facts. Report No. DOT HS 812 115]. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). Things like speeding, impaired driving, which includes alcohol, drugs, distracting, and drowsiness, not wearing a seat belt or a motorcycle helmet all contribute to the number of fatalities on our roadways. Building a national dialogue and consensus on how to promote a safety culture to better address these issues provided the backdrop for these events. They also provided a way to take a fresh look at role of behavioral safety in crashes, to seek out new partners, apply lessons learned from other successful public health initiatives, and identify innovative strategies.

Cognitive Distraction: What Were You Thinking?

NHTSA hosted a day-long technical meeting to take an in-depth look at the role of cognitive distraction in traffic crashes. Experts in the field of cognitive distraction presented their latest research and discussed how the topic is defined, how it is measured, and possible countermeasures to mitigate risk. 

Date and location of event:
5/12/15 - Washington, DC

School Bus Occupant Protection: Taking Safety to a New Level

School buses are the safest form of school transportation, but the addition of three-point seat belts could take safety to a new level. NHTSA held this meeting to update the current state of knowledge in the technology of three-point belt systems, identify operational and policy challenges and solutions, and explore innovative funding approaches that could serve as a catalyst for change. In November 2015, NHTSA updated its policy on this issue to say that every child on every school bus should have a three-point seat belt. 

Date and location of event:
7/23/15 - Washington, DC

Asleep at the Wheel: A Nation of Drowsy Drivers

Experts from a wide range of fields, including the sleep sciences, traffic safety, and public health, as well as from diverse organizations including advocacy groups, industry, State governments, and other Federal agencies took part in forum to discuss research and program objectives, consider priority public policy needs, stimulate connections between diverse stakeholders, and identify core public education needs to address the risks, consequences and countermeasures related to drowsy driving. Future agency plans on drowsy driving will incorporate many of the ideas generated by the meeting. 

Date and location of event:
11/4/15-11/5/15 - Washington, DC

Driving Behavioral Change in Traffic Safety: A Call to Action

A series of summits was held around the United States to call attention to the rising number of fatalities, and to identify new partners and innovative new approaches to traffic safety. More than 650 people participated, representing 29 States and over 100 organizations.

Date and location of event:
2/5/16 - Sacramento, CA

2/10/16 - Cambridge, MA

2/18/16 - Denver, CO

2/23/16 - Atlanta, GA

3/1/16 - Ft. Worth, TX

Driving Behavioral Change in Traffic Safety: A Call to Action

The national summit held in Washington, DC, served as the capstone to the regional series. It confirmed the value of proven safety countermeasures like high-visibility enforcement at reducing impaired driving and increasing seat belt use, and examined new ideas and strategies, including the use of advanced technology to enhance driver safety performance. The meeting also served to lay the foundation for a new framework on the road to zero, and the steps necessary to achieve that vision.

Date and location of event:
3/10/16-3/11/16 - Washington, DC

Road to Zero Conference and Launch of New Road to Zero Coalition

Building on the momentum generated by the behavior safety summits held earlier this year, this one-day conference focused on developing behavior-change strategies to cut traffic fatalities and put the United States on the road to zero fatalities. It also served as the launch of a new Road to Zero Coalition led by the National Safety Council. Over the next three years, the coalition will seek to stem the tide of the rising number of fatalities, serve as a catalyst for change, reach out to new partners and explore new approaches to highway safety.

Date and location of event:
10/5/16 - Arlington, VA

Enhancing Safety for Aging Road Users

To address the rapidly increasing number of older drivers on our Nation’s roads, NHTSA convened a one-day meeting to engage experts in the fields of law enforcement, older-driver licensing, occupational therapy, aging services, and mobility counseling on developing countermeasures and interventions for older drivers over the next 5-10 years. Topics included how to best identify and serve at-risk drivers, support older drivers through programs and technology, and create safe and realistic transportation alternatives for those who can no longer drive. The agency also will utilize the input from the meeting to update its 5-Year Plan on Traffic Safety for Older People.

Date and location of event:
11/3/16 - Washington, DC

School Transportation Safety: Thinking Outside the Bus

This meeting focused on the risk factors faced by students getting on and off the school bus, and on pedestrian safety outside the bus. School transportation professionals and safety experts came together to discuss trends in school-transportation-related crashes and innovations in school bus safety technologies that could help mitigate these crashes and injuries.

Date and location of event:
12/1/16 - Washington, DC