DETROIT -- After another year of massive recalls and record fines imposed on automakers, Mark Rosekind doubled down on his push for the auto industry to take up a more proactive approach to vehicle safety.
In a speech at the Automotive News World Congress, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety administration called for a cultural change in the industry in which automakers, suppliers, sales executives and dealers work actively and collaboratively to prevent crashes, rather than responding to safety crises after they happen.
His speech came ahead of an announcement expected for Friday of an agreement between major automakers and the U.S. government on a set of principles to guide further cooperation on a more proactive approach to safety, recalls and auto cybersecurity. Reuters reported the pact on Monday.
Rosekind said that while NHTSA’s enforcement actions have been important, its success as a regulator should ultimately be measured by how well it is able to cement more lasting change in safety practices across the industry aimed at preventing crashes and fatalities.
“The era of big recall is not a sign of progress. Record civil penalties are not a metric of success,” Rosekind said in his speech. “NHTSA is truly successful not when we catch safety violations and hand down penalties, but when we work together with industry to prevent that kind of crisis from ever occurring in the first place.”
Praise for AutoNation
In his remarks, Rosekind outlined several examples of that proactive safety culture beginning to take hold. He praised AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson for the dealer group’s decision to stop sales of vehicles with pending recalls until they are fixed, and the industry’s creation of an Information Sharing and Analysis Center, or ISAC -- an industrywide clearinghouse to deal with automotive cybersecurity issues.
He also praised a consortium of 10 automakers for agreeing to make automatic emergency braking a standard technology. Rosekind said additional manufacturers have expressed interest in joining the pact and said a timeline for when the the goal would take effect will be ready soon. He noted that the agreement will bring the technology to large numbers of vehicles much faster than could have been done through the federal rule-making process.
Rosekind said his final year as NHTSA administrator would focus on advancing autonomous driving technology to prevent crashes; studying the human factors that contribute to 94 percent of all crash deaths; and ensuring that his efforts to push the industry to be more proactive on safety take root.