Advanced vehicle technologies represent a “safety innovation revolution,” according to Mark Rosekind, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Rosekind met with leaders and researchers of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) and was keynote speaker for the 2016 Traffic Safety Conference hosted by TTI in College Station, Texas, June 6-8.
“Over the last 50 years, [seat belts and air bags] have saved 613,501 lives,” the administrator told the 300 people in attendance. “The advanced safety technologies we are seeing today represent us being on the cusp of a safety innovation revolution. That’s what’s coming.”
Rosekind heaped praise on the attendees, who included law enforcement, safety experts from the public and private sectors, municipal transportation planners and university-based transportation researchers.
“[You’re] amazing, passionate, dedicated people who are saving lives in their communities,” he said. “All of you are beacons. You’re the folks we need to support as you go about saving lives and preventing crashes. The work you do makes a difference. No one will ever say thank you enough.”
Rosekind also told the luncheon group that a lot of work is left to do, pointing to the 32,675 deaths resulting from crashes in 2014, the latest year of safety statistics captured by NHTSA. The 2015 fatality numbers, he previewed, will show an increase when the report is released soon. “For years, our society has accepted that kind of carnage on our roadways. We know that in 2015, the problem has gotten worse. Zero has to be the target,” he said.
As part of the solution, Rosekind pointed to automated vehicle technologies, which could hold “massive, life-saving potential.”
He applauded the recently announced RELLIS Campus at Texas A&M University, which will be partially dedicated to transportation technology research. “The interesting question is — how many lives can be saved by tech? We really are excited to find out that answer,” he said.