What’s at stake?
A new set of safety standards set to take effect in 2021 are expected to give automakers the tools they need to reduce road rash, but they will also require the industry to look at how it can best protect its customers.
The Consumer Automotive Alliance said it is not sure how it will go about making sure the rules are in place to keep cars safer.
“The industry is looking at all options for safety,” said Chris Ehrhardt, the group’s vice president of safety and emissions.
“We are not in the business of saying ‘oh, we’re going to be in a place that’s going to allow this and that,’ we’re in the market place where there’s a lot of safety needs.
There’s a whole spectrum of what’s best for safety.”
But the group is also pushing automakers to put their money where their mouths are by adopting a set of new technology and practices.
Ehrhardt said that the Alliance wants to see automakers using sensors, computerized traffic lights, and automated speed limits.
And he wants automakers to implement safer technology on some of the more popular cars in their fleet, such as the Chevrolet Silverado and Cadillac Escalade.
“They have a very strong stake in being in a position to be safer than anyone else,” Ehrhart said.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that more than 3,000 people have died in crashes on U.S. roads since 2010.
In all, there have been 5,400 fatal crashes.
Many states have already passed laws that make it easier for companies to offer more comprehensive safety upgrades for their vehicles.
But in many cases, they have not had the time or resources to make sure those rules are being implemented, said Jay Hodge, a safety researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
In some cases, the safety upgrades might be easier to get through than those mandated by law, because the companies have already invested billions of dollars in research, testing, and other investments, said Hodge.
In 2017, for example, General Motors and Chrysler agreed to spend $50 billion over the next five years on safety upgrades, including new safety features and sensors.
And GM will invest $50 million to upgrade its fleet of plug-in hybrid vehicles.
The U.K. government also announced a $100 million program in 2018 to provide free road tests for all vehicles, including hybrids and electric cars, starting in 2020.
In the meantime, the auto industry is working to make its vehicles safer by offering more technology and developing new ways to prevent crashes.
Ehhardt said automakers should also start to rethink how they choose the equipment they use to protect people in their vehicles, and take into account the safety risks associated with those decisions.
“When you’re thinking about safety and safety technology, you need to be thinking about things that aren’t just cost effective, but actually have safety benefits,” he said.