Annual Report
2020 - 2021

ROAD SAFETY →→→ A real perennial subject. But in the end, the stakes are life or death. David Ward, President of the Towards Zero Foundation, knows precisely how important safe vehicles are. He talks more about this and the correct inspection of state-of-the-art vehicles in the digital age in the interview.


#50by30 TARGET


David, please explain the role of the Towards Zero Foundation.

David Ward (DW): We are a UK charity promoting best practice in road injury prevention, and we host the Global New Car Assessment Programme. Our NCAP work includes supporting consumer crash test programmes in the emerging automotive markets of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. We have also led a successful global advocacy campaign to set a new United Nations global #50by30 target to halve road deaths and injuries by 2030.

What can improved vehicle safety contribute to achieving the new UN #50by30 target?

DW: A lot! We believe improved vehicle safety could help to reduce global road deaths by as much as a third. That is why we want all of the most important UN vehicle safety standards to apply universally to new and used vehicles by the end of the decade. This will ensure that consumers around the world benefit from the improvements we have already seen in Europe in terms of crashworthiness, thanks to stringent crash tests, and in terms of crash avoidance, thanks to the application of life saving technologies like electronic stability control, autonomous emergency braking, and intelligent speed assistance.

What can consumer-oriented organisations as NCAP`s achieve in terms of vehicle safety?

DW: NCAPs act as a catalyst to accelerate the use of the best available technologies. They help to build a market for safety by informing the consumer and incentivising manufacturers to develop safer products. They act as a powerful demand or ‘pull’ factor alongside the governmental ‘push’ of regulations. It is a highly effective approach, and it is impressive to see how our NCAP partners have generated five-star safety ratings for new models in emerging markets that are often still inadequately regulated. They prove that safety sells.


What kind of game changer do we expect when we drive connected and automated vehicles?

DW: Advanced intelligent driver assistance systems offer great potential to stop crashes from happening in the first place. Further progress will come from the development of connected and automated vehicles. But we must ensure that the full benefits of ‘Big Data’ are used to maximize the safety potential. In the future, NCAPs should be able to rate vehicles based on their real world crash performance. But we must have access to the data. This is also vital to guarantee the functionality of on-board safety systems. We are entering an era in which software updates will happen over the air and modify safety-critical vehicle functionality. Both consumers and regulators will need to be reassured that safety systems are working as intended at all times.

How can we ensure vehicles stay safe during their whole life cycle?

DW: At the moment, type approval and self-certification serve as a gateway into the market, so that only approved vehicles and safe systems are available for purchase. But in future, we will need to ensure that these safety capabilities are fully functional and up to date at all times. This will require independent, impartial testing and inspections, and the ability of legitimate stakeholders to access safety-related data. It is similar to the challenge we faced in the late 1990s over on-board diagnostics for emissions control; we must ensure that responsible third parties can provide consumers and regulators with the inspection and maintenance services that safety depends upon.


How can we enable independent and non-discriminatory access to in-vehicle data? Do you know about the DEKRA Trust Center model?

DW: This may require regulation, voluntary agreements by all key stakeholders, or a combination of both. Most important of all is recognizing that safety-related data cannot be subject to commercial exploitation or competition. It is a matter of public interest with potential life and death consequences. So we have to find a way to share data with the regulators and bona fide organisations that are part of the safety infrastructure of our intelligent mobility systems, while respecting privacy issues. DEKRA’s Trust Center model seems like a very interesting approach to consider. I believe that trust is the critical ingredient, because ultimately consumer confidence is the ‘sine qua non’ for growth in the market for connected and automated vehicles.