Many vehicle crashes can be traced back to a specific cause. Determining what prevents crashes from happening, however, is far more difficult. New research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) hints at an answer.
IIHS examined police data on front-to-rear crashes involving model year 2013 through 2015 Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC brands. They found that GM vehicles with autobrake and forward collision warning were involved in 43 percent fewer crashes and 64 percent fewer crashes resulting in injuries compared to the same vehicles without those features.
Forward collision warning without autobrake produced a smaller, though still significant, effect: 17 percent fewer crashes overall and 30 percent fewer crashes involving injuries. These findings suggest that GM’s advanced safety innovations are successfully stopping crashes in their tracks, especially when multiple safety technologies are combined. It’s a perfect example of how even incremental steps toward autonomous vehicles are already saving lives.
The results of the study also align with IIHS research of other automakers. With evidence of the effectiveness of these safety innovations growing, 20 OEMs, representing 99 percent of the U.S. auto market, have committed to making autobrake a standard feature on new passenger vehicles by 2022.
GM envisions a future where vehicles not only drive themselves, but also communicate seamlessly with other roadway users and even with infrastructure.
Cadillac is making progress toward the introduction of vehicles that are intelligent and connected by expanding Super Cruise, the world’s first true hands-free driver assistance technology for the freeway. The system uses precision LiDAR map data, GPS, a state-of-the-art driver attention system and a network of camera and radar sensors to enable hands-free driving on limited-access freeways. Super Cruise is available on the 2018 and 2019 CT6 model and will be available on all Cadillac models beginning in 2020 and other GM brands after 2020.
The system was officially introduced in China at the 2018 Asia Consumer Electronics Show and will initially be applied on the Cadillac CT6 40T Platinum prestige sedan. To ensure safe and efficient operation in China, local engineers conducted comprehensive verification of the technology. People of different ages, heights and genders were invited to test the Driver Attention System to ensure proper operation in both China and in North America. GM China is partnering with AutoNavi, a local leader in HD mapping technology, to ensure accurate and precise operation of Super Cruise in China.
Cadillac also plans to offer V2X communications in a high-volume crossover by 2023 and eventually expand the technology across Cadillac’s portfolio. Using V2X, compatible vehicles can be notified of hazardous road conditions, traffic light statuses, changing work zones and more. Its range of nearly 1,000 feet means drivers can be alerted to possible threats in time to avoid a crash.
2019 Technology of the Year Award
#1 Ranking for Automated Driving Systems
Many GM employees use mobile devices to do their jobs. But while these tools are helpful and even necessary, they can also contribute to accidents in the workplace. After reviewing the most common safety hazards at our global sites, GM leaders identified distracted walking and driving as a top culprit.
This distraction is often caused by cell phones and other mobile devices. That’s why in 2018 GM extended our prohibition on mobile device use from manufacturing sites to all GM sites globally. Now, when walking and using a mobile device at a GM site, employees must keep their eyes up and one ear free. They should not look at mobile devices or hold devices to an ear while walking. Ideally, all mobile device use should occur in a safe location, when one is not walking or in the path of others.
With this policy, one of the most comprehensive of its kind, now in effect, we encourage employees to take responsibility for mobile device safety, changing their own habits and reminding colleagues to do the same. Being smart about this daily behavior is another way we can help each other return home safe every day.
Building safe vehicles means not only engineering for crashworthiness, but also choosing materials that promote indoor air quality. The China Automobile Health Index, sponsored by the China Automotive Engineering Research Institute (CAERI), evaluates whether materials used in vehicles contribute to a healthy driving environment. The Buick GL8 ranked first among the eight models tested by CAERI and was the only model to earn a five-star score.
GM vehicles recently released in China have been recognized for leading levels of safety. The China New Car Assessment Program (C-NCAP) named the Chevrolet Equinox SUV the 2018 Safe Car of the Year. C-NCAP, which tests vehicle safety performance, has been selecting a Safe Car of the Year from among all vehicles that received 5-Star Safety Ratings for seven years. The Equinox was chosen this year from among 24 candidates due to its outstanding crashworthiness and extensive safety features.
The China Automotive Technology & Research Center (CATARC) announced that the Buick GL6 received a maximum C-NCAP 5-Star Safety Rating. The multipurpose vehicle received a score of 56.6 based on a number of crash and impact tests, demonstrating consistent safety performance.
In addition, SAIC-GM-Wuling launched three upgraded Wuling Hong Guang models, all of which were developed with safety in mind. Before their launch, the vehicles were put through extensive safety, reliability and quality testing, such as comprehensive road testing, high and low temperature endurance testing, brake system durability testing and anticorrosion testing.
While the first priority of our workplace safety team is to eliminate fatalities and traumatic injuries, we will only achieve true safety when we eliminate all injuries. That includes sprains and strains, which made up approximately half of all injuries in GM’s North American operations in 2018. Because sprains and strains are often specific to an individual, they are not always addressable with a simple rule or a specific piece of PPE. Instead, we are working on a number of initiatives to address these types of injuries, including pilot programs that engage employees in prevention.
For example, when new products are introduced, they often come along with new processes and equipment, which can create potential for injuries. At the Oshawa Assembly Plant in Ontario, a new process helps employees to proactively deal with soreness before serious injury occurs. Employees are evaluated and coached on different ways to approach physical tasks, and changes to equipment may be made based on employees’ needs. Other concepts being piloted include on-site athletic trainers to help employees stretch and strengthen muscles, and wearable technologies, such as a harness-like exoskeleton that redistributes loads to ease strain on an operator’s body.
For the fifth year in a row, employees across GM came together for a week to recommit to product and workplace safety. Global Safety Week 2018 focused on the GM behavior “It’s On Me,” with a special emphasis on the emotional component of safety. Programming throughout the week aimed to show the impact of safety on employees, families and customers.
The highlight of the week was an interactive broadcast, shown live across the world, during which employees heard updates on our safety progress and watched videos about GM safety heroes who are living “It’s On Me” at work every day. Employees could ask questions of leadership and make comments using our internal social media platform.
Global Safety Week also got local, with specific sites and functions coming up with events targeted to their specific culture and site needs. For example, the Talegaon facility in India held a lamp lighting ceremony, while teams in Mexico and Korea learned about PPE used to protect employees working at heights. Members of the GM legal staff in the U.S. banded together to form the Safety Singers, changing the lyrics to classic rock songs to focus on safety. A sample lyric, inspired by The Beatles: “What would you do if you saw something wrong? Would you speak up and say, ‘It’s On Me?’” Across GM, it’s clear that our people get by with a little help from their colleagues and friends.
GM’s dedication to safety spans divisions, borders and culture. It’s an important focus every week of the year, but each August, we take a special week to reinforce the importance of both workplace and vehicle safety. During Global Safety Week 2018, we honored Safety Heroes who took “It’s On Me” to heart and kept themselves and others safe. They include:
Ashley Gotch, a GMS Coach at the Orion Assembly Plant and member of UAW 5960 who works with members and leaders to help them better understand safe work practices. Ashley leads weekly safety observation tours and helps everyone she works with stay safer at the plant.
Michael Zhou, a vehicle coordinator for Engineering Laboratories in Shanghai, who noticed a potentially dangerous situation for pedestrians at the GM Campus. After dropping off passengers, our company shuttle buses would immediately back up to park and risked hitting people walking behind them. Michael raised this issue with the site’s Committee for Pedestrian and In-plant Vehicle Safety and got input from bus drivers and passengers, leading to a new system that provides a safer traffic flow.
Chuck Green, Driver Performance and Research, Global Vehicle Safety, who helped bring game-changing technology to the routine tasks of backing up a vehicle and driving on the freeway. He helped develop the rear vision camera technology that is now helping millions of GM customers back up safely. He also worked on the driver interface for Super Cruise, the world’s first true hands-free driving system for the freeway. Chuck’s contributions to Super Cruise resulted in the addition of the color light bar on the steering wheel as well as the escalation protocol that assists drivers in maintaining their supervision of driving and alerts them when they need to retake control of the wheel. Chuck has made “Innovate Now” a focus of his work, resulting in vehicles equipped with technology that elevates the driving experience and helps keep drivers active and aware.
Eric Medri, Group Lead/Senior Engineer, Paint Manufacturing Engineering and Nick Rae, Lead Process Engineer, Paint, Oshawa Assembly, who caught and reported a problem in a vendor’s piece of equipment that could have caught fire. The equipment, which was used to test a new paint cleaning material, had been used numerous times at other GM and OEM sites. Eric and Nick took responsibility for the vendor’s equipment and did not use it until the vendor completed remediation to make it safe.
Also during Global Safety Week, we encouraged GM employees to share their stories by uploading a “Safety Selfie” video explaining what safety means to them. Selected videos were played during the Global Safety Week Town Hall broadcast.
people are killed and
millions more are injured on
the world’s roadways each year.
About 1.25 million people are killed and millions more are injured on the world’s roadways each year, according to the World Health Organization. Distracted driving is a preventable contributor to this toll. As we work toward our vision of a future with zero crashes, we are always looking for more ways that General Motors can collaborate with stakeholders who are committed to creating safe roads for drivers.
We support education efforts and industry partnerships that increase driver awareness and produce measurable road safety results. Two major focus areas of our programs are research that involves enhancing awareness of distracted driving and positively changing driver behavior to help minimize the risks from distraction. Current partnerships include:
A new vehicle feature is giving teen drivers a nudge in the safe direction. Buckle to Drive technology, now embedded in Chevrolet’s Teen Driver system, prevents the driver from shifting the vehicle out of park for up to 20 seconds if the driver’s seat belt is not buckled. When pressing the brake pedal to shift, the driver will hear an audible alert and see a message in the driver information center that reads “Buckle seat belt to shift.” A study conducted by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety found that the feature increased the seat belt use of adults who occasionally use a seat belt by 16 percent, compared to the standard seat belt reminder in similar Chevrolet vehicles.
“GM is constantly working to help drivers reduce the risks of distractions,” says Daniel Glaser, GM Driver Workload Technical Lead and Senior Driver Performance Researcher. “We’ll continue to support organizations and collaborations that share our goal of minimizing — and ultimately eliminating — distraction-related crashes.”
According to a recent Research Now survey, 84 percent of people admit that distracted driving while handling a phone is dangerous. Yet 90 percent of drivers have engaged in the practice. Driven to change this behavior, Chevrolet hosted a hackathon where teams of young people were challenged to propose ways to reduce distracted driving.
The winning idea was a smartphone app called Call Me Out. Recently launched by Chevrolet and available to anyone with an Android phone, the app reminds new and experienced drivers to keep their eyes on the road and put their phones down while they are driving. Users are encouraged to invite friends and family to “call me out” and record a positive message to remind them to keep their hands off their phones and on the wheel.
The app uses the phone’s accelerometer and GPS to detect when the phone is physically picked up while traveling at speeds above 5 mph and plays recorded, personalized messages from friends or family. It also includes gamification, featuring a scoreboard and rankings. The less a phone is handled while driving, the higher the score on the leaderboard.
After Steve Kiefer’s son Mitchel was killed by a distracted driver, Kiefer began a quest to end distracted driving. Kiefer, GM’s Senior Vice President of Global Purchasing and Supply Chain, established the Kiefer Foundation, which has raised more than $1 million to create awareness of distracted driving’s dangers. The Foundation helped fund new highway cable guard rails in Detroit and has sponsored more than 100 events at schools and community functions. In honor of his potentially life-saving contributions, Kiefer was honored in 2018 with a Distinguished Service Citation by the Automotive Hall of Fame.