Attendees at this week's Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Mich., heard a familiar refrain: the idealistic Vision Zero.
General Motors is the latest to paint a picture of "zero crashes, zero emissions, zero congestion" for the future. As noted by my colleague Michael Wayland, who was in Traverse City, Continental, Volvo and others have outlined a similar mission in the past, some with actual timelines.
"To achieve such visions — particularly zero fatalities — it will take drastic action by companies and regulators," writes Wayland. "Governments would have to ban all human drivers or any human-driven vehicle without an extremely comprehensive suite of car technologies that haven't yet been released, or are too costly for typical consumers to buy."
Wayland, suffice it to say, is skeptical of the industry's willingness to take such actions, and cautions practicality. I am similarly skeptical, but would tell industry leaders the opposite: Paint bold visions, and then back them up with bold actions.
Take zero fatalities, for instance. It is within a carmaker's purview to ensure that advanced safety technology, short of fully autonomous cars, can be within the reach of the average consumer. Automatic braking technology, for instance, could do a world of good in decreasing the nearly 40,000 U.S. traffic fatalities a year. Carmakers can and should work to ensure this specific technology is made accessible across their lineups.
It can be frustrating when grand ambitions seem like empty promises. The solution is to make sure a company's resolve and actions match its vision.
— Shiraz Ahmed