They are being promoted as being advancements which may “significantly reduce deaths and injuries on the nation’s roadways,” and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is very serious about getting three new technological advancements for automobiles – going so far as announcing this week that they are being spotlighted in the agency’s new “Significant and Seamless” initiative.
According to Secretary of the Department of Transportation Anthony Foxx, “Safety is our top priority and we can achieve remarkable progress in reducing injuries and fatalities in this era of innovation and technology. Today’s announcement focuses on real solutions that can significantly address safety issues that have plagued this nation for decades, including failure to use seat belts, drunk driving and driver error.”
What are these new gizmos?
1. Seat Belt Ignition Interlocks.
This gizmo connects the car’s ignition switch with seat belts, so if you fail to snap your seat belt in place, the car won’t start. Proponents of placing these gizmos in American cars and trucks argue that not only will this improve the safety of people who are in crashes and accidents, but seat belt ignition interlocks, once in place in all cars on the road, would also allow for car manufacturers to build products that are cheaper to make and cheaper to buy since they wouldn’t need as much structural steel as a safety protection.
2. Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS).
DADSS technology is already in place in some cars, usually by court order. However, DADSS could be placed into every American vehicle in the future, even those owned by people who don’t drink alcoholic beverages, making it impossible for anyone to start the car if the gizmo determines that there is an unacceptable level of alcohol in the blood of the person setting in the driver’s seat.
3. Forward Collision Avoidance and Mitigation (FCAM).
FCAM is new technology that automatically determines that there is going to be an accident (with either another vehicle or a bicycle or pedestrian) and takes the appropriate action without the driver doing anything. FCAM would automatically slam on the brakes, for example, before the car rear-ended another car at an intersection.
Here’s a video of the FCAM technology in action:
Together, these three new automotive technologies are being promoted as part of NHTSA’s “Significant & Seamless” initiative where the federal government is working toward implementation of the new advancements on American roads as soon as possible.
“In addition to our ongoing work with states and the automotive industry, we need a new vision, and a new blend of technological research to address some of the most significant and persistent threats to American motorists,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “We must look to technological intervention to make the next great leap, and get them poised for fleet adoption as soon as possible.”