Car crashes are something that happens on the road every day. The majority of cases are caused by driver error, we all are human, and mistakes do happen that result in less than savory outcomes. Ideally, there would not be any deaths that come from an accident. However, it does happen; with over 8,700 vehicle deaths reported within the first three months of the year, President Biden-appointed Jennifer Homendy, the director of the National Transportation Safety Board, believes the system itself needs to change rather than driver behavior.
Never mind the abysmal driver’s education standards in America, compared to nations like Germany or Finland. Or the Zoom Zombie phenomenon of driver absenteeism from being cooped up in homes for 18 months. Or the rises in substance abuse. Nope, it’s the street racers who are wrong.
And look, we all agree that street racing is wrong. But is speed itself wrong? Or is it the lack of knowledge of what to do at any given speed? Have we considered tiered licensing?
Seeking To Lower Vehicle Speeds Through Electronic Limiters
According to Transport Topics, Jennifer Homendy gave a speech at the Governors Highway Safety Association in Denver, Colorado, and unpacked her stance on the rise of driving deaths.
“The current approach, which favors automobiles and punishes only drivers for crashes, is not working. If we are going to get to zero, we will have to do something different,” said Homendy. She used speeding as an example for her speech and asked if road designs encouraged people to drive at high speeds or if “ill-conceived” federal guidance led to increased speed limits in states. Another question that arose during her speech was if states had taken away the ability for authorities to set lower speed limits and directed her attention towards “manufacturers who design vehicles that can exceed 100 miles per hour or that have no speed limiters.”
Homendy called upon public health officials, road designers, vehicle manufacturers, governors, transportation providers, and communities to share this new vision for a different approach to road safety. A vision that seeks to reduce the speeds people drive to lower the death toll caused by accidents.
It’s important to note that the NTSB doesn’t have any regulatory authority, and the NTSB only investigates transportation incidents, including crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regulates vehicles, while the standards for driver’s education is left up to the autonomy of the 50 states. Meanwhile, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates trucking companies, and the Federal Highway Administration is responsible for the roadways.
So while the NTSB can’t force regulations within states or the placement of limiters on cars, they can try to push others towards making changes.
Electrification And Software Open The Door For Total Vehicle Control
While electric vehicles do have their performance benefits: their overall quickness, their weight distribution, and lower center of gravity… they also open the door up for ethical dilemmas. Everything in an EV is controlled by software. And in this day and age, that means the entire vehicle is connected to a larger network, recording, tracking and feeding instantaneous data on everything from location, to speed, to even how a driver’s seat is oriented. Everything.
EV owners give up much more privacy relative to somebody who opts for an older and more analog automobile, such a 15-year-old pickup truck. We at MC&T defend the right to buy and electric vehicle, but there’s a long battle ahead to make sure it’s not at the expense of everything else.