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ADAS needed to cut deaths

30 September 2015

Currently available advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) could cut road deaths by one-third according to a Boston Consulting Group (BCG) analysis commissioned by the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA). The study focused on seven ADAS technologies: forward collision warning/assist/adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection, night vision, lane departure warning/lane keep assist, adaptive front lighting, surround view, and park assist. The report asserts that these technologies could prevent some 9,900 fatalities and $251 billion in socio-economic losses in the US each year.

The report, “A Roadmap to Safer Driving Through Advanced Driver Assistance Systems”, goes on to suggest that ADAS is a precursor to higher levels of automation that could eventually eliminate 90% or more of all vehicle accidents.

However, car buyers remain reticent due to cost sensitivity and a general lack of awareness. The BCG study reports that consumers generally place a lower dollar value on ADAS technologies than the systems presently cost to manufacture and install. The U.S. National Safety Council and the University of Iowa recently launched the “My Car Does What” website after their research concluded that many car owners are only marginally aware of safety features installed in the cars they drive every day. As a result, ADAS use is growing slowly, representing a missed opportunity to reduce traffic deaths and accidents more quickly.

To mitigate these tendencies, the MEMA/BCG report calls for greater driver education concerning safety technologies, integration of ADAS into the NHTSA five-star NCAP, tax incentives and insurance discounts for ADAS purchases, and US cooperation at the international level to establish ADAS-related global safety standards. In addition, the report calls for the US to establish a national vehicle inspection system to replace the current spotty patchwork of state-level programs.

To bolster the case for more concerted action, BCG calculated the “safety contribution” of ADAS systems in terms of the socio-economic costs of road accidents. By preventing death, injury, property damage, and other losses, BCG calculated that ADAS-induced savings would work out to more than $16,000 per vehicle over a 20-year lifespan.

Steve Handschuh, the president and CEO of MEMA, which represents more than 1,000 US automotive suppliers, noted, “We possess the know-how and technology to save nearly 10,000 lives on America’s roads annually. What’s lacking is the urgency to increase consumer education and the political will to get it done today. The way forward should include a mix of federal tax incentives and discounts on insurance premiums to steer consumers toward available safety technologies. At the same time, NHTSA’s New Car Assessment Program should be updated to recognize established and emerging advanced safety technologies, and U.S. safety officials and their international counterparts must come together to harmonize regulations, given that ours is a global industry. Anything less, and we’ll continue to suffer an unacceptable number of annual highway deaths despite the fact that solutions are available today to save thousands of lives and billions of dollars in societal costs.”

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