Continental Automotive Systems NA praised outgoing National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Administrator Dr. Jeffrey Runge for his “legacy contribution to motor vehicle safety by shifting agency priorities to put crash prevention and protection of
occupants after a crash on equal footing.”
The company showcased in Washington, D.C. a concept car that it believes holds the most promise of helping drivers avoid crashes.
Company President and CEO Bill Kozyra said, “In addition to increasing safety belt use to the highest level ever in this country, Dr. Runge will be remembered for another accomplishment of huge benefit, acknowledging that while much has been done to protect occupants after a crash occurs, emphasis now must also be on preventing as many crashes as possible by means of available technology.”
“Crash prevention is top priority in my book,” said Dean McConnell,
director of Occupant Safety & Driver Assistance Systems. “Junkyards are too full with the aftermath of crashes that could have been prevented. That can and will change because exciting technology solutions are available to compound the benefits of other safety equipment already in vehicles. Increased seat belt use will also continue to be a factor in improving these safety statistics.”
At a behind-the-wheel demonstration event in Washington, D.C., members of the Washington Automotive Press Association (WAPA), NHTSA staff, and safety groups drove Continental’s Active Passive Integration Approach car that as the name suggests integrates existing safety systems, like seat belts and air bags, with “anticipatory” sensors that trigger technologies that help drivers
remain in control and avoid crashes.
“We call it our Total Safety approach because it is wired to literally
anticipate problems and assist the driver in avoiding those problems, or at least minimizing crash circumstances. We believe that the various safety systems like electronic stability control, seat belts and air bags need to be integrated so that these systems share vital information and provide the driver with the greatest number of tools to help avoid crashes and mitigate injuries,” said McConnell.
He explained that in the recent Transportation reauthorization bill
(SAFETEA) signed into law by the President, DOT was directed to pursue technologies that avoid crashes and research “at least three” such technologies that do so.
“We believe our total safety approach not only meets NHTSA’s goals and those of the Congress, but will be welcomed by consumers, particularly since the auto industry, NHTSA and safety groups are working to educate them about how the new safety technologies work and why they are worthwhile. Education is a huge component in motor vehicle safety with the environment changing so rapidly.”
The foundation technology for the Continental demonstration car is
Electronic Stability Control (ESC) that helps prevent rollovers and other out-of-control crashes. Both NHTSA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) predict remarkable safety benefits as it becomes more widely available, particularly in preventing the 14,000 single-vehicle crashes that occur each year. Preliminary IIHS research found that ESC has the potential of preventing as many as 7,000 fatalities in single vehicle crashes each year.
In addition to ESC, the Continental demonstration car featured these
safety technologies that provide a sensor-initiated staged response to an impending crash:
* Visual or sensory warning (via pedals) of impending emergency situation.
* Brake system boosted and applied automatically when driver emergency braking is sensed.
* Seat belts pre-tensioned to remove slack.
* Side windows and moon roof close automatically when a crash is sensed.
* Front seats that are brought to an ideal position for optimal air bag
Dr. Runge became NHTSA Administrator in 2001. He leaves the agency this week for a senior position in the Bush Administration at the Department of Homeland Security.
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