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NTSB chief: Vehicle safety better, but improvements still needed

January 30, 2012
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car accidentDuring a recent visit to the Washington Auto Show, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairman Deborah Hersman had a chance to see how manufacturers are integrating technology like phones, entertainment and navigation systems into their products -- something of special interest to the NTSB, which is calling for a nationwide ban on driver use of portable electronic devices (PEDs).

In an entry on the NTSB Safety Compass blog, Hersman noted the many positive uses of technology in transportation. "Today, we see technology assisting drivers to get more information and enhancing the safety performance of vehicles; examples include lane departure and forward collision warning systems, electronic stability control systems, and more."

Hersman asked Sue Cischke, a 36-year-automotive industry veteran, what safety changes she'd seen over the course of her career. Cischke, Vice President for Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering at Ford Motor Company, said automotive safety features have gone from passive and reactive -- like seat belts and air bags -- to active and agressive features intended to prevent crashes.

"She added that even with all of the advances in technology over the last three decades, the seat belt is still the biggest lifesaver," added Hersman.

The NTSB Chairman said that even though it's "exciting" to see safety enhancements increase, with more than 30,000 traffic fatalities each year, "there is so much more that can be done."

To read Hersman's complete blog post, click here.

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