Director of Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering, Asia Pacific, Ford Motor Company
“Safety regulations can vary significantly from market to market, but we meet and exceed all requirements where we operate. Public domain assessment programs also vary. There are currently five different New Car Assessment Programs (NCAPs) in Asia, with a sixth one in development. Moreover, the protocols within these NCAPs can change very frequently, often with very little lead time.”
One of my primary roles at Ford Motor Company is to make sure that our vehicles meet all safety and environmental regulations in the Asia Pacific region. In doing so, it’s important to keep in mind that Asia isn’t just one market. It’s an enormously diverse area that includes some countries with highly developed transportation networks and experienced drivers, other countries with underdeveloped infrastructure and many novice drivers. Improving safety requires addressing three key elements: human behavior, vehicle safety and the environment.
On the human behavior front, one of the most fundamental occupant safety factors is safety belt use. Safety belt use is relatively low in Asia Pacific markets. Traveling around Asia, one frequently sees passengers moving around inside vehicles and even children standing up in moving vehicles. Data is very clear that the use of safety belts is key to reducing the occurrence of injuries and fatalities in the event of an accident.
In Asia, a unique challenge is the sheer number of first-generation drivers on the roads. In developing Asian markets in particular, more and more people are able to afford vehicles and are taking to the roads for the first time. Many of these drivers are the first in their families to own or even drive a car or truck, so there is no tradition of learning the basics of how to drive from one’s parents. Novice drivers have an increased crash risk because they may not possess judgment related to driving skills that comes with experience. These new drivers may underestimate the implications of their driving behaviors and have greater potential to engage in multiple tasks, such as texting while driving.
That’s why we work hard to help educate and provide drivers in Asia with better training. Our Driving Skills for Life program has helped to train 77,000 licensed drivers in 330 cities across eight different Asia Pacific markets. In the U.S., the program focuses on teenage drivers. But in emerging markets, we focus on novice drivers of every age.
Driver training is one element of our three-pronged, integrated approach to safety at Ford. The second element incorporates safety and driver assist technology – building technologies into our vehicles to help drivers avoid accidents or mitigate the impacts when accidents do occur.
With respect to vehicle safety, our goal is to design vehicles that achieve a high level of safety for a wide range of people, over a broad spectrum of real-world conditions. Ford applies a set of basic safety tenets and technologies that we build into our vehicles globally. Our Safety Design Guidelines (SDGs) are design targets intended to enhance the already extensive company efforts to provide vehicles that exhibit a high level of safety. Safety is one of our core brand pillars, representing some of the key things customers care about and the work we do to deliver our One Ford plan. Our Public Domain Guidelines (PDGs) focus specifically on helping to strengthen Ford brands globally in relevant public domain assessments.
Safety regulations can vary significantly from market to market, but we meet and exceed all requirements where we operate. Public domain assessment programs also vary. There are currently five different New Car Assessment Programs (NCAPs) in Asia, with a sixth one in development. Moreover, the protocols within these NCAPs can change very frequently, often with very little lead time. Our SDGs and PDGs are some of the enablers that assist our vehicles in meeting their design targets.
The third element focuses on the road environment – what can Ford, along with other manufacturers and governments, do to help improve transportation infrastructures? This latter element requires input and action from many groups of stakeholders. It is clear, however, that enhancing motor vehicle safety requires a holistic view focusing on all three elements.
In the U.S. and Europe, there are hundreds of millions of vehicles on the roads with record-low rates of fatalities. This is the result of focusing on all three elements: human behavior, vehicle safety and the environment. It will be important to take the experiences from the U.S. and Europe and understand how they might be adapted to the unique circumstances in Asia Pacific.
For Ford, Asia Pacific is a great example of our One Ford system at work, and we would not be as successful as we are without our global One Ford team. We’re taking processes and products from around the globe and we’re introducing them in Asia while meeting all the differing regulatory requirements.
It is very exciting to work in the region and I am proud to be a part of such a great global company.
(For more on vehicle globalization, see the John Fleming voice.)
© 2014 Ford Motor Company