Wednesday, October 7, 2015 | Washington, D.C.
Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
As Prepared for Delivery
It is an honor to be here with Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and my former NTSB colleague and chairman, Debbie Hersman.
Both of them are dedicated to making Americans’ daily travels safer.
And as Secretary Foxx said, technology innovations offer enormous potential to save lives, a potential unimaginable to most Americans just a few years ago.
And that, in a way, is a challenge. This isn’t science fiction any more. Increasingly, these innovations are in the cars we drive. Yet the knowledge we bring to the driver’s seat often lags behind the capabilities of our vehicles.
Research by NSC and the University of Iowa shows that many drivers are unsure of what the technology in their vehicles is designed to do, and there is uncertainty and discomfort among drivers about life-saving technologies.
This mirrors NHTSA’s own research, which shows that the biggest challenge in bringing these innovations to their full potential will likely be the human factor. If drivers do not accept, understand and properly employ these technologies, we will miss opportunities to save lives.
To address this challenge, Secretary Foxx has directed NHTSA to tackle many keys issues confronting this exciting new era in safety. We have created a vehicle innovation team that is looking at the technical challenges in developing these systems, at how best to use NHTSA’s regulatory authority, at relationships with the states, at legal and even ethical questions.
But no factor is more important than the human factor, which is why the team is looking into both how manufacturers can design these systems to make them easy to understand and use, and at how driver education and other consumer communications can better prepare drivers for this new era.
As always, NHTSA is hardly alone in this effort. We will work with auto manufacturers and the suppliers who build these systems, with the states, and with committed safety advocates such as the National Safety Council.
NSC and the University of Iowa are tackling the human-factors challenges of this new technology era head-on. The “My Car Does What?” campaign is designed to bring useful, practical information to help make us all safer drivers. Such initiatives can make a real difference in closing the gaps in drivers’ skills and knowledge.
So, to Debbie Hersman and the NSC, to Dan McGhee and the Iowa team, thank you for your efforts to create safer cars, safer drivers, and a safer future for all of us.