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Vehicle Safety At-A-Glance

Vehicle Safety

Seeking to set a new standard in customer safety

  • Continued building industry-leading, customer-focused safety organization.
  • Increased use of data analytics to identify potential safety issues and product improvement opportunities.
  • Received the highest possible overall vehicle score in regional new car assessment testing in our five largest markets for 57 2015 models.
  • Introduced Teen Driver, an industry first, to assist parents in encouraging and monitoring safe driving habits of their kids.
  • Introduced six active safety features.
  • Continue development of crash-avoidance technologies, such as Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) Communication, which will debut as an industry first in 2017.
  • Bring an advanced, semi-autonomous driver assist technology, called Super Cruise, to market.
  • Develop new technology to help encourage seat belt usage and help address impaired driving.
  • Implementing new safety technologies in an increasingly complex competitive environment.
  • Introducing safety technologies in regions around the world with varying regulatory and customer driving environments.

Front Pedestrian Braking, a new active safety technology available on the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu and 2016 Cadillac CT6, is one of many safety features tested at our new Active Safety Test Area at the Milford Proving Ground.

Approach

As GM seeks to set a new standard for customer safety, we continue to build on a foundation designed to serve our customers well.

As part of our global vehicle development process, GM designers and engineers take a comprehensive approach to safety by considering all three phases of a vehicle crash when designing and engineering our vehicles: Before, During and After.

Technical specifications for GM vehicles ensure compliance with regional regulatory requirements and also may take into account regional consumer metric programs. In addition, our vehicle safety specifications meet an internal set of requirements that typically go above and beyond regulatory compliance. GM’s approach to vehicle safety also includes offering our customers a variety of strategic safety technologies, such as OnStar, forward collision alert, lane departure, automatic braking systems and adapative cruise control.

For the 2015 model year, in five of our largest markets, 57 models received the highest possible overall vehicle score for their respective market’s new car rating program. In the U.S., government 5-Star Safety Ratings are part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) New Car Assessment Program (NCAP).

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is an independent, nonprofit scientific and educational organization dedicated to vehicle safety. For the 2015 model year the Chevrolet Spark, Volt, Malibu, Sonic, Trax and Equinox; the Buick Encore; and the GMC Terrain were named IIHS 2015 Top Safety Picks. The designation goes to models that achieve a good or acceptable rating in the challenging small overlap front test – introduced in 2012 – and a good rating in each of the Institute’s four other crashworthiness evaluations – moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints.

An engineer prepares a test at the new $14-million GM Active Safety Test Area at the Milford Proving Ground.

Safety Organization

In 2015, we continued our focus on customer outreach for recall completion and leveraging our strengths in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) marketing tools and capabilities to improve recall completion rates.

We continue to focus on developing capabilities, such as data analytics, to find potential emerging issues and future product improvement opportunities. Another focus is the global Safety and Field Investigation process to complete timely and effective investigations in order to minimize future safety risks. Our goal remains building a proactive safety culture where all employees have a role in vehicle safety through the Speak Up for Safety (SUFS) program and comprehensive Global Product Safety training class.

The SUFS program was launched in 2014 to encourage employees to report potential workplace or vehicle safety issues or to offer safety-related suggestions. The process by which GM evaluates and decides on potential safety-related issues also was restructured to engage the highest level of the company in determining safety issues. During 2015, the SUFS program continued to grow in number of submissions. In Mexico, for example, an engineer spoke up to suggest a more appropriately sized fuse in the brake systems of the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and the 2015 GMC Canyon prior to launch, avoiding potential risks to our customers.

Read about GM and the
GM Foundation’s global partnerships with SafeKids Worldwide here.

In 2015, GM began working with an independent Monitor appointed under our Deferred Prosecution Agreement related to the ignition switch recall. The independent Monitor’s expertise will be brought to bear on our policies, processes and procedures related to vehicle safety.

GM’s commitment to active safety also can be seen at the new 52-acre Active Safety Test Area dedicated facility at Milford Proving Grounds to develop and integrate new collision-avoidance technologies. The new state-of-the-art Active Safety Test Area concentrates the company’s active safety testing into one site. It features:

  • A 16-acre dynamics pad for testing a variety of robot-controlled and automated vehicles.
  • Highway simulation with six lanes, on/off ramps, controlled lighting, road signs and lane markings that represent global specifications.
  • A parking test area with a variety of different curb types and landscaping detection.
  • Pedestrian test area with a 90-degree traffic intersection and precisely controlled dummy movement.
  • Tunnel simulation that simulates toll booths, tunnels and other structures.
  • A building for observation, indoor testing, hoists for test preparation and a robotic control station.

The all-new 2016 Chevrolet Malibu will debut a system, called Teen Driver, that provides parents with a tool to help encourage safe driving habits for their kids.

Advanced Safety Technologies

Our pursuit of industry leadership in vehicle safety continues to be underscored by the introduction of new advanced technologies.

The 2016 Malibu, for example, features a new, industry-leading feature, Teen Driver. This technology allows parents to help teens develop safe driving habits by learning more about a teen’s experiences behind the wheel. Parents can register their teen’s key fob to obtain a report card following the teen’s driving trip on parameters such as:

  • Distance driven
  • Maximum speed traveled
  • Number of over-speed warnings issued
  • Number of Enhanced Stability Control (ESC) events
  • Number of Antilock Brake System events
  • Number of Forward Collision Alerts, if equipped
  • Number of Front Automatic Braking events, if equipped

Teen Driver also reinforces safe driving behavior by allowing parents to set a warning when the vehicle exceeds a preset speed and limit the maximum audio volume. The technology also encourages teens to buckle up by muting the radio or any device paired to the vehicle until the driver and front passenger are wearing their seat belts.

During 2015, GM also introduced six new active safety features for 2016 model year vehicles, bringing the total active safety offerings up to 22 features.

  • Low Speed Front Automatic Braking applies the brakes automatically if a vehicle is traveling at a low speed and the system detects that a front-end collision situation is imminent and the driver has not already applied the brakes. By automatically applying the brakes, the system can help reduce the severity of the collision or avoid it entirely at very low speeds.
  • Front Pedestrian Braking alerts the driver and, if necessary, automatically applies the brakes if the system detects that a pedestrian is directly ahead and a collision is imminent. Automatic brake application can reduce the collision’s severity or avoid the collision.
  • Full Display Mirror displays a wider, less obstructed field of view to assist when driving, changing lanes and checking for vehicles and traffic conditions as compared with a traditional inside rearview mirror. The system may also provide increased rear visibility at night.
  • Curb View Camera provides the driver a view of the scene immediately ahead of the vehicle on the vehicle’s center stack display to help the driver avoid low-speed collisions into nearby objects, such as curbs, poles and parked vehicles. The system works in forward gear during low-speed maneuvering (e.g., parking).
  • Surround Vision Recorder allows the driver to record, store (on an SD card) and play back a video of the images recorded by the vehicle’s Surround Vision feature cameras.
  • Night Vision provides the driver an infrared night vision image of the area lit beyond the headlamps that highlights and provides alerts to detected pedestrians or large animals.

In addition to the active safety features introduced in 2015, GM has announced support for an automotive industry agreement proposed by NHTSA and IIHS that would lead to making Forward Collision Warning and Automatic Emergency Braking standard on light vehicles. Both technologies are available today on dozens of 2016 Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac models, accounting for more than 1 million vehicles on the road. Currently, 37 models are available with forward collision alert, and 19 models offer both forward collision alert and automatic emergency braking.

Beyond active safety technology, the past year also saw the validation of OnStar’s Injury Severity Prediction (ISP) algorithm. Dr. Stewart Wang, director of the University of Michigan Program for Injury Research and Education (UMPIRE), published and presented findings validating the ISP, which GM introduced in 2010. The validation used actual crashes from the state of Michigan. ISP is included as part of OnStar on equipped Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles in the U.S. and Canada to provide additional information to first responders in the event of a vehicle crash triggering Automatic Crash Notification. The algorithm analyzes crash information such as air bag deployment, seat belt use and direction of impact to determine the probability of severe injury to the vehicle occupants. OnStar Advisors then relay the ISP rating to 911 centers for the use of first responders. The publication of the study has generated great interest within the emergency service response community.

OnStar’s next-generation wireless capabilities may even further enhance the connected vehicle’s transformative public safety function by allowing emergency responders and other medical providers to obtain, receive and analyze even more information related to an emergency incident.

Vehicle-to-vehicle communications technology allows cars to send and receive information such as location, speed and direction of travel and could help mitigate collisions and congestion.

Next-Generation Technologies

Some of the most important changes sweeping the automotive industry in the next several years are around intelligent vehicle technologies, such as autonomous, vehicle-to-vehicle (V2) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I). GM is a leader in the development of these technologies.

As vehicles become equipped with V2V communication technology, many traffic collisions can be avoided or mitigated. V2V also is expected to help improve traffic congestion. When V2V-equipped vehicles approach each other, the vehicles exchange basic safety information, such as location, speed and direction of travel. V2V features notify and warn drivers of a variety of situations, adding to increased driver awareness provided by current production active safety features.

GM continues to work with the Michigan Department of Transportation, the University of Michigan’s Mobility Transformation Center and other automakers to create V2I-enabled corridors on 120 miles of metro Detroit roadways, including stretches of Interstate 96 and the Reuther and Ford freeways. When completed, it will be the largest deployment of V2I technology in the United States.

In 2017, we also will bring an advanced, semi-autonomous, driver assist technology, called Super Cruise, to market. This new feature, which will be offered on the Cadillac CT6, provides customers with a driving experience that works with Adaptive Cruise Control to also provide hands-off, automatic lane following under certain highway driving conditions. The system is designed to increase driver convenience and reduce stress for an attentive driver on limited-access freeways, both in bumper-to-bumper traffic and on long road trips. Super Cruise technology is a step toward autonomous technology, which we believe has important safety benefits.

GM is also focused on developing and implementing new technology to help encourage seat belt usage and help address impaired driving. Seat Belt Assurance System (SBAS) is a seat belt interlock that prevents the vehicle from being shifted out of park until the driver and detected front seat passenger are buckled up. This feature is available on a limited number of fleet vehicles. It is being evaluated as a pilot to determine customer acceptance and the effect it may have on increasing seat belt use.

Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) is a collaborative research program between the automotive industry and the government to develop a sensor technology which, someday, could reliably keep intoxicated drivers off the road.

Taking It to the Streets of M-City

A natural place to test self-driving cars is city streets, but it’s not always easy to simulate certain conditions and tricky situations. That’s the idea behind M-City, a unique 32-acre test facility, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for evaluating the capabilities of connected and automated vehicles and systems. M-City simulates the broad range of complexities vehicles encounter in urban and suburban environments. There are numerous benefits to testing in this closed, controlled environment. For example, what happens when a traffic light goes out? What if a policeman is gesturing? What happens if there’s a storm and the traffic light turns to a blinking yellow? Will the vehicle know what to do? Those are the types of experiences encountered in real life. M-City provides the opportunity to set these situations up in a controlled environment so that one day in the not-too-distant future, next-generation technologies will be production-ready for the real world.