"You cant regulate it if you dont understand it" - Potomac Alliance managing director Kevin McMahon

"You can't regulate it if you don't understand it" - Potomac Alliance managing director Kevin McMahon

America's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is increasingly bringing technical expertise in-house says a public policy expert advising TRW in Washington.

The plethora of advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) now becoming more prevalent on cars is driving a need for greater understanding of how such technology fits in with a regulatory environment set by Washington, although this is still a work in progress.

"The challenge for the industry is going to be the integration for ADAS," The Potomac Alliance managing director, Kevin McMahon, told just-auto on a conference call from TRW's global headquarters in Livonia, Michigan.

"None of these systems such as lane keeping [and] pedestrian collision avoidance [for example] can be brought to market without safety standards.

"The Department of Transport [DOT] and NHTSA are trying to bring this talent inside NHTSA. You can't regulate it if you don't understand it. There is a role for suppliers and OEs to look at educating NHTSA, but NHTSA has to have the capability as well."

The US currently has 40,000 deaths and injuries every year on its roads - "a big number" - which is motivating Washington to evaluate the introduction and integration of ADAS as long as consumers regard such safety as affordable says McMahon, noting: "Safety does sell," as governments look increasingly at the issue.

"Zero fatalities is talked about," said McMahon. "Obviously safety suppliers and vehicle manufacturers should have that as an objective.

"Getting there is the difficult part. There is a human element - behavioural aspects you can't engineer out of a product."

The Potomac Alliance is TRW's resource in Washington, covering transportation, safety legislative and regulatory affairs, with McMahon having more than two decades of experience representing corporations and business organisations before Congress, the Executive Branch and State Governments.

McMahon was appointed by both Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush to serve on the Auto Parts Advisory Committee (APAC).