Automobile manufacturers are studying safety standards and best practices within the airline industry, at the urging of regulators from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Top executives from auto and airline companies joined NHTSA and FAA officials in an April 2016 event titled the “The Enhancing Safety Culture in Transportation” forum to discuss how aviation industry safety practices might be adopted within the auto industry.

Accident Insurance ClaimA record number of safety recalls within the auto industry is one factor behind the risk reduction initiative. The auto industry recalled up to 64 million vehicles in 2014, according to the NHTSA, a number that exceeded recalls in the three previous years combined. Faulty ignitions and airbag flaws were the two leading recalls that year, according to The New York Times.

Government officials are now urging automakers to consider safety data sharing, as practiced in the aviation industry, to help identify possible defects in parts.

Even with marked differences between the auto and aviation industries, including regulation and the number of players, industry experts believe that there are opportunities to share best practices.

Automakers have already taken steps to collaborate, including plans announced in March make a standardized automatic emergency braking technology available in most vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2022.

The NHTSA is working with 18 leading automakers to develop automotive safety programs based on a set of four fundamental principles:

  • Enhance and facilitate proactive safety
  • Enhance analysis and examination of early warning reporting data
  • Maximize safety recall participation rates
  • Enhance automotive cybersecurity

Insurers, along with state legislators and other stakeholders, are being invited to join with automakers and the NHTSA to increase participation rates in safety recall actions. Owners of older vehicles are being specifically targeted, since these vehicles pre-date many recent safety improvements now available in newer model cars and trucks.

By way of background, U.S. commercial air travel saw a decline in fatality risk of 83 percent during the 10 years between 1998 and 2008, according to the NHTSA. Aviation officials are working with airlines and airplane manufacturers to achieve an additional 50 percent decline in commercial air travel fatality risk by 2025.

Auto safety has also increased in recent years, according to the NHTSA. The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, passed in 1966, is one reason given for an 80 percent decline to date in the number of driving fatalities as a share of miles traveled. Nevertheless, additional vehicle safety initiatives are being pursued to further reduce the tens of thousands of fatalities and millions of injuries that occur each year. NHTSA attributes the vast majority (94 percent) of vehicle crashes to human error.

Government officials attribute safety improvements to a variety of factors, including public health policies, auto industry engineering innovations, and trauma care improvements, among others.

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Material for this article was taken from a collection of industry sources relating to the subject.

In all of the general statements here, see the state law of the controlling jurisdiction. Every case is different and circumstances vary widely depending on the governing state law, policy provisions, and related considerations.

This blog is provided for educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal advice or an opinion in regard to any topic discussed. The blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state.

Read more about how the Auto Industry Looks to Airlines for Safety Tips.