- Jeremy Anwyl, who retired as Edmunds vice chairman August 1, was part of a panel on safety technology and distracted and impaired driving at the Governors Highway Safety Association conference.
- In the past, safety technology focused on surviving an accident, but in the future, the technology will focus on trying to ensure drivers don't get into collisions in the first place, he said.
- Despite an increase in the number of safety features available on cars today, their high price is still a barrier to entry for many consumers.
SAN DIEGO — The auto industry is seeing a wave of technology cresting over its vehicles, and collision avoidance will soon be the life-saving focus, rather than just accident survival, according to Jeremy Anwyl, who retired August 1 as Edmunds.com's vice chairman.
Anwyl spoke at the 2013 Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) conference, which met here this week.
Anwyl was part of a panel on safety technology and distracted and impaired driving, which also featured Deborah Hersman, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
"In the past, safety technology was focused on surviving an accident," Anwyl said. "But in the future, the technology will be more focused on collision avoidance."
Despite the increase in safety technology available on cars today, Anwyl said that its high price is still a barrier to entry for many consumers.
Hersman, echoing the sentiments of David Strickland, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), who spoke earlier in the conference, said that features like forward collision warning, electronic stability control and lane departure warning systems should be standard on all vehicles — no matter what their price tag.
"Safety should not just be for those who can afford it," said Hersman.
Distracted and impaired driving was the other focus of the conference panel. Hersman restated the NTSB's commitment to having all portable electronic devices banned from the vehicle.
"Hands-free is not risk-free," said Hersman.
"Distracted driving is a big issue," Anwyl said, "but I'm not sure that banning technology is the solution."
Anwyl said that consumers so love the feeling of being able to stay connected to their social circle that "it's almost an addiction." As a result, many consumers will end up bringing their devices into their cars — regardless of the rules.
His proposed solution was driver education, not more laws. Anwyl cited a NHTSA statistic: 90 percent of accidents are caused by driver error. He stressed that drivers do not take that fact serious enough, preferring to think that car safety is all about the best technology, crash-test ratings and lots of airbags.
If you are buying a vehicle for your teen, Anwyl said, "Take a few options off and use that money to send the kid to driving school."
Edmunds says: Technology is getting better, but we must become better drivers to avoid it becoming a distraction.