David Harkey is to become president of The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute (IIHSHLDI), succeeding Adrian Lund who is retiring.

Harkey has directed the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Centre since 2006 and has more than 30 years’ experience in road safety research.

As an engineer, the majority of his work has focused on improving roadway design and operations for all users, including motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists.

Harkey has collaborated with IIHS researchers on past projects and in August was the keynote speaker at the Institute’s second roundtable on the problem of large truck underride crashes.

IIHS research helped lead to stricter laws on alcohol-impaired driving, graduated licencing laws for teenage drivers, higher safety belt use rates, airbags and more crashworthy vehicles.

“Our roads and vehicles are much safer today because of the strong and internationally respected work of IIHS and HLDI,” said Harkey. “Even with so much progress, it is unacceptable nearly 100 lives are still lost in crashes every day.

“As we work with our safety partners toward the goal of zero crash deaths, we will continue to conduct high-quality research about ways to reduce crashes and the deaths, injuries and property damage that result from them.

“We will build on the Institutes’ research and testing of crash avoidance technologies — the foundation for autonomous vehicles — to steer consumers toward the systems that perform the best and speed the adoption of effective systems on all new vehicles.

“And we are positioned to evaluate current and future automated vehicle technologies at our expanded Vehicle Research Centre.”

IIHS-HLDI research is guided by the Haddon Matrix, the most commonly used paradigm in the injury prevention field. It shows the problem of motor vehicle crashes can be mitigated by changing one or more factors — people, vehicles and/or the road environment — at any point in the progression of a crash.

“Recognising the full benefits of advanced technologies will only accrue decades from now, we need to continue to remind policymakers of the many proven countermeasures we could be deploying more widely right now to save lives,” added Harkey.