Automakers and the US Government Make a Pact to Improve Safety Through Cooperation
Something positive is brewing among the world’s automakers and the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). Mid-January, 2016, USDOT Secretary Anthony Foxx met with 17 of the biggest automakers, including those who have been involved with some massive recalls in recent times: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, General Motors, Honda, and Volkswagen AG, among others. The purpose of the meeting was to reach an agreement on a voluntary program that will improve auto safety, catching problems before they turn into enormous recalls.
The January meeting follows one held in December that kicked off the discussion of these matters. USDOT Secretary Foxx stated that there will be “many more” meetings in the future as the government and the automakers nail down the details of their collaboration.
All of the parties have agreed to work together, in accordance with the law, to enhance automotive safety according to four principles:
- Improve and enable safety procedures that are proactive, not reactive
- Improve the timely analysis of data arising from early-warning reporting
- Increase safety recall participation rates as much as possible
- Make the most of automotive cybersecurity.
Implementing the new agreement is based on sharing hard data and what are known as “industry-best practices.” One of the planned actions that might seem unusual, but will likely ultimately be helpful, is the investigation of how the aviation industry shares their safety processes, with an eye to determining whether the automotive industry could do likewise.
During 2014, an unprecedented 64 million vehicles were recalled in the US, and automakers were sharply criticized for not recalling problematic vehicles quickly enough. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also has come under fire for not taking aggressive enough action with regard to the recalls. However, Secretary Foxx believes that those days are in the rear-view mirror, commenting, “We have finalized a historic agreement on a set of broad-ranging actions to help make our roads safer and help avoid the sort of safety crisis that generates the wrong kind of record-setting and headlines.”
The agreement has been characterized as a starting point because of the challenges that still remain. Generally speaking, the new policies would remove the barriers that have stalled out past progress, and would also create a framework for state-level regulations. We at McNeely Stephenson hope that this collaboration will impact us all positively.
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