NHTSA Calls For Faster Adoption of Technology To Reduce Traffic Deaths

With motorcyclist and pedestrian deaths reaching a six year high, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has initiated a push toward technological advancements in vehicles that are designed to educate drivers and improve motorist behavior.

The NHTSA announced its “Significant and Seamless” initiative goals on November 14, describing three focal points where the safety agency wants auto makers to utilize technology that may reduce the risk of vehicular deaths.

The initiative was created after analysis of the 2012 traffic accident death totals, which indicated an increase for the third consecutive year, reaching a total of 33,561 deaths.

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The main goal of the Significant and Seamless plan is for the NHTSA and automobile makers to establish a relationship and incorporate effective safety devices in vehicles that use technology already available, which could possibly save tens of thousands of lives annually.

Data gathered from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) indicates there was a 3.3% increase in fatalities as a result of motor vehicle accidents from 2011 to 2012, as well as a 6.5% increase in the amount of injured motorists and pedestrians.

The NHTSA was able to determine through the data that 52% of the motor vehicle related fatalities involved passengers not harnessed by a seatbelt during the crash. The NHTSA estimated that around 3,000 of the passengers not seat belted could have survived if they were harnessed. Additionally, drunk driving accidents has risen 4.6% from 2011 to 2012, accounting for 10,332 deaths.

The Significant and Seamless plan intends to use technological intervention, such as “Seatbelt Interlocks, Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, and Forward Collision Avoidance and Mitigation techniques” says NHTSA Administrator David Strickland.

The seatbelt interlocks system could prevent a vehicle from being driven if the driver and passenger(s) are not properly buckled. Currently, NHTSA is conducting research on crash test requirements and comprising a reliable tamper-proof interlock system.

The second technological suggestion in the Significant and Seamless plan is the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS), which would prevent drivers from starting a vehicle if they are under the influence, similar to an ignition interlock system. The NHTSA and the automotive industry have been researching this technique for commercialization over the last few years in attempt to perfect an unobtrusive and consumer friendly system that would be offered as an option in vehicles.

The third technological advancement is the Forward Collision Avoidance and Mitigation (FCAM) sensor, which would allow the vehicle to detect an object in it’s path and alert the driver to take corrective action, potentially even applying the vehicles brakes automatically to reduce impact. Recent efforts have made significant progress and the NHTSA projects the technology will be available this year to make its way into the market.

The three technological suggestions may have great life saving potential and could significantly reduce the number of automobile accident deaths in future years. The NHTSA’s initiative is aiming for states to become more active in preventative techniques and educating motorists about safety awareness.

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