NHTSA’s Rosekind Addresses Automotive Quality Summit on the Need for an Industry-Wide Proactive Safety Culture

by Greg Creason, AIAG | Sep 25, 2015

SOUTHFIELD, Mich., September 23, 2015 — In his keynote address to nearly 400 automakers at AIAG’s Quality Summit in Novi, Michigan, yesterday, Dr. Mark Rosekind, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), said that he came to Detroit to begin changing the conversation and mindset about safety.

“The goal is to reach a point where safety features are no longer built on the assumption that a crash is going to happen, but rather that the crash will not happen at all,” he said, referring to the future of automated vehicles, a technology and infrastructure transformation that Rosekind says the U.S. Department of Transportation and NHTSA are joining forces to support on a national level. “Even though cars are much safer, vehicles are still being produced with defects, and sometimes it’s being hidden from NHTSA and consumers. I’m here to seek your help. We need a change of mindset.”

"Despite a significant increase in overall product complexity, our industry has made excellent progress in the quality and reliability of the vehicles we produce, but it simply hasn't been good enough,” AIAG’s Executive Director J. Scot Sharland said after Rosekind’s address. "Individually and collectively, we have reaffirmed our commitment to more predictable quality outcomes and taking product safety performance to the next level. We look very much forward to working with Dr. Rosekind and his NHTSA team to make it happen — faster.”

AIAG’s OEM and supplier members collaborate in a variety of areas to drive down cost and complexity in the automotive supply chain. The AIAG Quality Summit is a popular, annual industry-wide event that draws attendees from North America and around the globe. Held September 22-23, 2015, the event featured automaker and supplier presentations on topics designed to improve quality and product development processes. Attendees seemed to appreciate Rosekind’s straight talk about quality challenges in automotive safety.

Rosekind said the industry must “embrace forward-acting safety” and recognize that safety is every individual’s responsibility. “The highest risk Americans face every day happens inside your products,” he said. “Many of you and your companies are already there, but we are not confident that a proactive safety culture is widespread yet in the industry.”

Noting that the industry must “end the era of the big recall,” Rosekind said he is “still optimistic despite the headlines.”

When an audience member asked him what is the biggest impediment to the auto industry achieving a proactive safety culture, Rosekind said attendees should go back to their companies after the Quality Summit and ask their leadership and colleagues that same question. He pointed out that other transportation industries, like aerospace, do not compete on safety features. “You don’t see an airplane with a five-star safety rating on the cockpit,” he said. “Safety is for everyone. The auto industry needs a democratization of technology so that the highest safety is standard.”

In closing, Rosekind said that a proactive safety culture “should be in everyone’s job description, but it’s even better if it’s in your DNA.” He added that automotive company leaders should be held accountable.

“My remarks today at the AIAG Quality Summit are all about the transformation that’s coming, and really, I am here to extend an invitation for all the quality professionals here to join NHTSA in our life-saving mission. This was the perfect forum for us to talk to people about a proactive safety culture for the auto industry.”

About AIAG

The Automotive Industry Action Group is a unique not-for-profit organization where OEMs, suppliers, service providers, government entities, and individuals in academia have worked collaboratively for more than 30 years to drive down costs and complexity from the supply chain. AIAG membership includes preeminent manufacturers and many of their parts suppliers and service providers. For more information, visit

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