Automakers, airlines, and US regulators will come together to discuss if airline industry safety practices can be applied to the automotive industry, according to a report from Automotive News. The meeting will be co-hosted by the administrators for the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the FAA, the organizations in charge of road and aviation safety, respectively.
While commercial air carriers have driven steep declines in fatalities, road fatalities ticked up slightly in 2015 even as cars have continued to get safer. The goal, says NHTSA administrator Mark Rosalind, is to find best practices from the aviation industry — including efforts where the aviation industry and government work together to share data to gain broader insights — that could apply to the automotive industry.
when you fly, you are literally entrusting your life to a corporation
The event will be closed to the public, but it's also possible that items like data recorders and "black boxes" that could give insights into fatal crashes could be discussed. However, there are also many differences between the commercial airline industry and civilian automobiles. For one, when you fly on a plane you are literally entrusting your life to a commercial entity, its maintenance practices, employees, and aircraft. Driving a car is a totally different exercise. Maintenance is done by third parties (if at all), and the rules are much more lax about who can drive a car, how much rest they need beforehand, and the scrutiny around whether drivers are medically fit to drive is near-nonexistent. It seems that the lessons of the airline industry might be more applicable to commercial transportation providers like Uber.
Since the event seems to be focused on automakers, it's possible that they will encourage carmakers to share safety data and technologies, much like Boeing might require various airlines to perform certain maintenance tasks based on what one particular airline learned.
We're all for increased collaboration between automakers, especially as we move toward a more autonomous future and an expected increase in vehicle-to-vehicle communications. And bringing the aviation industry together with automakers certainly can't hurt, but don't expect any massive changes to happen overnight. Of course, in this industry, when does that ever happen?