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Proactive Safety Principles 2016


Today’s motor vehicles are safer than they have ever been as automakers continue to invest in the development and implementation of innovative safety technologies and practices. Since the passage of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act in 1966, fatalities as a share of miles travelled are down 80 percent, and are down 26 percent just over the past decade alone.

Our collective progress over the last several decades is due to a variety of factors, including public health policies, auto industry engineering innovations, and trauma care improvements, among others, illustrating that motor vehicle safety and policymaking is a shared and collaborative responsibility.

While all stakeholders can take pride in this achievement, we must not be complacent – in 2014 alone, 32,675 people lost their lives on our nation’s roadways; with 94 percent of all crashes attributable to driver choices and human error. Most of the other 6 percent of crashes were the result of environmental factors and improper maintenance, with auto “defects” being identified as the unique cause in less than 1 percent of these cases.

With the Principles below, automakers and NHTSA are reaffirming our resolve to leverage our collective strength and knowledge to work collaboratively, consistent with the law, to further enhance the safety of the traveling public.

Statement of Principles

1.      Enhance and Facilitate Proactive Safety


Continue to emphasize and actively encourage processes that promote steady improvement in vehicle safety and quality within our respective organizations, across the industry, and with other stakeholders.


  • Consider ways to promote more effective dialog between NHTSA, automakers, and suppliers for improved communications between the industry and the agency on potential and emerging cross-industry safety issues and trends to foster proactive solutions, as appropriate.
  • Enhance timely and consistent safety–related issue identification through periodic information exchanges about recall-related decision making processes that examine areas of investigative focus, new approaches to reviewing emerging safety–related issues and examining lessons learned from recall actions.
  • Examine the existing aviation industry voluntary/anonymous safety information reporting system to understand whether such an approach could be utilized in the auto sector.

2.     Enhance Analysis and Examination of Early Warning Reporting Data


To continue to incorporate advanced methods in data analytics into the analyses and examinations of Early Warning Reporting (EWR) data to better identify potential risks earlier.


  • Examine whether existing advanced analytical tools and procedures can be used to proactively analyze EWR data to assist in the analysis of potential safety–related issues.
  • Participate in a NHTSA/Industry working group to analyze the quality and use of EWR as it currently exists and explore potential changes to existing data elements and reporting processes that could enhance the usefulness of EWR data in identifying potential safety issues for further investigation.

3.     Maximize Safety Recall Participation Rates


Explore and employ new ways to increase safety recall participation rates by the public by working toward the aspirational goal of 100 percent participation.


  • Share industry best practices, tactics and policies based on lessons learned from ongoing safety recalls and increase safety recall participation by motor vehicle owners.
  • Leverage best practices identified to increase public awareness of ongoing recalls that increase safety recall participation.
  • Invite other stakeholders, including but not limited to, consumers, new and used vehicle retailers, insurers, and state legislators and DMVs, to collaborate with automakers and NHTSA to improve safety recall participation rates, with a particular focus on older vehicles.

4.      Enhance Automotive Cybersecurity


Explore and employ ways to work collaboratively in order to mitigate those cyber threats that could present unreasonable safety risks.


  • Develop suggested best practices that reflect lessons learned within and outside of the auto industry to foster enhanced cyber resiliency and effective remediation.
  • Develop appropriate means for engaging with cybersecurity researchers as an additional tool for cyber threat identification and remedy.
  • Support and evolve the auto industry’s information sharing and analysis center (Auto–ISAC) through the following:
    • Promote continued voluntary sharing of cybersecurity threat and vulnerability information through the Auto–ISAC and its members.
    • Enhance the Auto–ISAC to include sharing of common/generic countermeasures used to address common threats and vulnerabilities.
    • Expand the membership of the Auto–ISAC to include members of the automotive supplier community and other participants in the connected vehicle ecosystem.

Commitment to Work Collaboratively

Working together, there has been enormous progress in automotive safety over the years. From designs and technologies that provide substantial protection to occupants involved in crashes to vehicle technologies that assist drivers in avoiding crashes, the automobile industry has made a significant and continuous contribution to motor vehicle and traffic safety. Likewise, NHTSA has a history of behavioral safety programs to address drunk, drugged, distracted and drowsy driving, speeding, and failure to use safety features such as seat belts and child seats, as well as initiatives to protect vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists. These activities will continue to play an important role in improving roadway safety by addressing the 94 percent of crashes caused by driver choices and human error.

Additionally, government and industry working together, consistent with exiting law, should encourage the adoption of safety technologies and advocate public investment in physical and digital infrastructure.  As vehicle safety technologies increasingly assist in the driving environment, trust in these technologies becomes paramount. 

NHTSA and automakers have engaged in productive discussions to explore meaningful ways to collectively improve vehicle safety.  By acknowledging the Principles above, automakers and NHTSA are committing to work together to develop a collaborative, data–driven, science–based process, consistent with the law, to advance these objectives and thereby we are emphasizing our commitment to further enhancing the safety of roadway users.

U.S. Department of Transportation

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

American Honda Motor Company, Inc.

BMW of North America, LLC


Ford Motor Company

General Motors

Hyundai Motor America

Jaguar Land Rover North America LLC

Kia Motors America, Inc.

Mazda North American Operations

Mercedes–Benz USA, LLC

Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc.

Nissan North America, Inc.

Porsche Cars North America, Inc.

Subaru of America, Inc.

Tesla Motors, Inc.

Toyota Motor North America, Inc.

Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.

Volvo Cars USA

Last updated: Friday, January 15, 2016