CTA is a leading advocate for innovation in transportation, particularly in self-driving vehicles. The lifesaving and life-changing potential of self-driving vehicles is enormous and exciting. According to the National Traffic Safety Administration, more than 37,000 people died on U.S. roads in 2017 — that’s more than 100 traffic deaths per day — and 94% of serious crashes are due to human error. Not only will self-driving vehicles save lives, they’ll also provide new mobility opportunities to seniors and people with disabilities. Many CTA members are developing self-driving technologies and components, in addition to aftermarket solutions to increase auto safety.
Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CTA, testified on vehicle technology and self-driving vehicles at the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce hearing on summer auto safety. The hearing, held May 23, titled “Summer Driving Dangers: Exploring Ways to Protect Drivers and Their Families,” addressed the increased risks to drivers and their passengers during the busy summer driving season. Shapiro’s testimony focused on innovations available today that can help prevent kids from being left in hot cars and driving assistance features that can prevent automotive accidents.
Several of these technologies have been featured at CES. At CES 2018, Carol Staninger, a passionate advocate for the welfare of children and president of Ancer, exhibited for the first time at age 82. After seeing news stories about children and dogs accidentally left in hot cars, Staninger decided she could make a difference through technology. Staninger invented a presence detector and alarm device called Save Our Loved Ones (SOLO) to prevent children, pets or seniors being left alone in cars. Many other entrepreneurs have introduced devices to solve this problem using connected car seats, apps and Bluetooth devices. Each help remind parents to check the back seat.
Shapiro also highlighted the potential of self-driving vehicles, which can eliminate most of the nearly 40,000 roadway deaths a year in the U.S. At CES 2019, more than 170 vehicle technology exhibitors showcased the latest in self-driving technology — from Bosch’s all-electric, self-driving pod to Qualcomm’s 5G-enabled self-driving chipset. These innovators underscored how self-driving technology will save lives, boost our economy and open a world of possibilities for passengers.
Driver-assist and add-on technology was also highlighted in Shapiro’s testimony. While fully self-driving vehicles are still years away, the aftermarket industry provides a valuable service in allowing consumers to add life-saving technologies to vehicles they already own. As the average age of vehicles on the road today tops 11 years, aftermarket solutions will continue to play a critical role in increasing the use of vehicle safety technologies. This technology is already saving lives, avoiding accidents and paving the way for completely self-driving innovations still to come.
Shapiro also encouraged legislators to update our safety laws and provide a national regulatory path forward for self-driving vehicles. Last year, the SELF DRIVE Act, which CTA supported, passed out of the House unanimously but died in the Senate. This important legislation would have been a jump start toward adapting our vehicle safety laws to address self-driving technology and would have created more opportunities for testing and deployment. Shapiro urged Congress to revisit this issue and keep the U.S. at the forefront of self-driving innovation.