Presentations from Edmunds' Truly Safe Conference

By AutoObserver Staff June 1, 2011

safety-conference-header.jpg, the premier online resource for automotive information, hosted leaders of the traffic safety establishment as well as experts from other fields with compelling and applicable insights at Edmunds’ Safety Conference: Truly Safe? Debunking Myths and Crafting Effective Policies for Car Safety. The event was held at the Newseum in Washington, DC May 23-24, 2011. Below are summaries and highlights of the presentations, as well as links to download related presentations from the conference.

Jeremy Anwyl, CEO for
In an attempt to move car safety culture in the right direction, will be: donating ad space to Ad Council traffic safety messages, collecting and publishing new safety data sets and ratings for free public access, tracking and reporting public interest in safety materials, encouraging drivers to sign a “safer driver” pledge and providing ongoing support for social media conversations about safety.

Peter Appel, Administrator of DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration
We’re moving toward a new era in roadway and vehicle safety, thanks to wireless technology that allows vehicles to communicate with each other.

Daphne Bavelier, Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester
Not all technology similarly affect how our brains work. Playing action packed games heightens our attention, while multi-tasking between many different media is detrimental to our capacity to focus. As technology use expands, new types of drivers take the road. This diversity needs to be taken into account when thinking of car safety.
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Roger Berg, Vice President of Wireless Technologies at DENSO’s Research Laboratories
Vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications in both OE and aftermarket versions are available today, but help is needed to get them on the road to improve safety.
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Billie Blair, President/CEO of Change Strategists, Inc. and author of All the Moving Parts: Organizational Change Management
In comparing private pilots to drivers, three things are evident: private pilots receive far more training; private pilots take personal responsibility for their performance; and private pilots are monitored less.  To achieve better road safety, we'll need to engage drivers in strategies that enhance performance and responsibility and enact a culture of change.
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Thomas Broberg, Senior Safety Adviser for Volvo Car Corporation
Let’s look back at a specific crash scene and evaluate what driver system technology could have done in the situation, thinking holistically to assist the driver in avoiding collisions.
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Joan Claybrook, former NHTSA administrator
When trying to effect change, the mountain you’re trying to scale may not be as tall as you think it is.
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Tom Dingus, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute
Why do people crash? VTTI research gives insight into the true answers.

Janette Fennell, Founder,
Children now travel in the back seat of vehicles due to fatalities caused by the front seat passenger airbag.  The change in seating position has led to the unintended consequence of children being unknowingly left alone in cars causing heartbreaking heatstroke deaths.  One-hundred-eighty (180) children died due to passenger seat airbags yet at least 584 children have died in hot vehicles.  Where's the outrage?
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Ben Hamilton-Bailie, Architect, urban designer and movement specialist
Ambiguity, uncertainty, intrigue and the creative use of risk lies at the heart of a new approach to traffic safety in Europe. The principles of "shared space" challenge many long-standing assumptions about the meaning of safety, and the use of familiar highway engineering such as traffic signals, curbs and barriers.
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Barbara Harsha, Executive Director of Governors Highway Safety Association
States are beginning to link crash and crime data as a way to target and better utilize motor vehicle and criminal justice resources
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Peter Kissinger, President of AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
Many Americans have become indifferent and complacent about the largest public health crisis in the country. We lose someone every 15 minutes in traffic crashes, but accept these tragedies as the price of mobility. It’s unfortunate that we are more concerned with getting to our destination quickly than we are with arriving safely. We must change the current safety culture in our society to make road safety a priority in our community. This change starts with individual drivers understanding the real risks associated with driving, changing their attitudes and ultimately their behavior behind the wheel.
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Ely Dahan, James Wei Visiting Professor in Entrepreneurship at Princeton University
The biggest traffic safety threats do not match public perception – and the same goes for the solutions.
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Mike Jackson, Chairman and CEO of AutoNation
There is an opportunity for safety to fit into the sales environment; dealer personnel can provide critical product familiarization sessions that can improve driver experience and save lives.
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Adrian Lund, President of Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Highway safety progress has resulted from a variety of factors that improve drivers and roadways, but much of the progress has resulted from vehicle designs that reduce injuries to people in crashes. Future progress is expected from rapidly-emerging vehicle technology to prevent crashes, but not all of this technology is going to work. While evaluating the effectiveness of new high-tech crash avoidance features, we need to remember that other, lower-tech road design, traffic law, and vehicle improvements also can prevent crashes and injuries.
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Tim Ogden, author of Toyota Under Fire
The Toyota recalls illustrate the large gap between public perceptions of auto safety and reality. What can we learn from the way allegations were made and repeated and Toyota’s responses so that future auto safety scares can be turned into improved safety rather than wasteful hysteria?

Bob Price, Professor of Sociology at Texas State University
Some safety inventions didn’t make it to 2011. Do you remember the Red Flag Laws, the dog sack and the automobilist hat? What seemed like a good and important idea in the past may be completely out of place today, but they may have helped us get here.
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Bryan Reimer, Associate Director of the New England University Transportation Center and Research Scientist in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab 
Having your eyes on the road is not the same as having your brain focused on the road.
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John Sternal, VP of Communications and Research at
LeaseTrader is pursuing rear seat belt legislation in Florida, and announcing a study that shows many adults would fail the written driving exam if they took it today.
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David Strickland, Administrator of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,
“Building a Safety Dialogue” involves updating the safety ratings and focusing on a variety of topics that encompass vehicle safety.

Chris Theodore, former Vice President of North America Car Product Development for Ford Motor Company and former Senior Vice President of Platform Engineering for Daimler-Chrysler
Society and technology have progressed since many auto safety laws have passed. Let’s revisit regulations of the past to see- in a blame-free environment - if we can do better going forward.
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Mark Vizecky, Minnesota Department of Transportation’s “Toward Zero Deaths” program
Just like doctors look at family history as well as smoking, cholesterol and other health factors, we must take a comprehensive view of traffic safety. Minnesota DOT – the benchmark for state programs – has analysts who drive virtually every road and provide risk assessment for each. Data shows that the curve radius is tied to the likelihood of a crash, so they are working to increasing safety with proven effective safety treatments, such as chevrons and rumble strips. Data shows that it takes five miles to bring about highway hypnosis (in which railroad crossings, stop signs and intersections may be ignored) so they are trying to increase the prominence of these locations with street lights, signs and pavement markings in rural areas to keep drivers focused.
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Barry Schwartz is the Dorwin Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action at Swarthmore College and the author of The Paradox of Choice.
To improve driving, we need to compel drivers to make more deliberate decisions behind the wheel. The power of moralization could be instrumental in addressing this challenge.
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