Topics: NASCAR, NHTSA
June 23, 2013
THE MODERATOR: Thank you to everyone for being with us this morning here at Sonoma Raceway. We're here today to make an announcement about a special partnership between NASCAR and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. With us today is Marcus Jadotte, NASCAR Vice President of Public Affairs. We're also joined by Administrator David Strickland of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. He will talk to us more about the National Highway Traffic Safety Admiration's efforts and how this new partnership with NASCAR will help us. At this time I'll turn it over to Administrator Strickland.
DAVID STRICKLAND: Well, thank you so much, and it's great to be here. It's really great to be here, and I'm here today to announce a new partnership, a five‑year memorandum of understanding with NASCAR to collaborate initially and produce messaging to really bring safety home to frankly all the race fans both at the track and frankly around the world.
NASCAR is the preeminent racing series. It is an actual time and opportunity to be able to reach people that really do focus on vehicles, focus on the fun and excitement of racing, but specifically are also the audience that we need to talk to about safety. And I think that this partnership, this five‑year memorandum of understanding and working on a number of issues including general vehicle safety and maintenance and impaired driving and seatbelts and distractions and there are so many issues which are crosscutting for the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and for NASCAR and NASCAR fans, we think this is a fantastic opportunity to build a wonderful collaboration to make safety not only a factor but popular for fans around the world. We're so happy to partner with NASCAR and Marcus and the rest of the team.
MARCUS JADOTTE: Thank you very much, David. We're excited about this partnership. Safety obviously is a huge priority for NASCAR, both on and off the racetrack, for our competitors and certainly off the racetrack for our fans. NHTSA really sets the standard. They define safety on our roads and highways across the country, and we're excited for the partnership and the opportunity to work with the administrator and his team.
Q. David, is texting and the request not to text, is that going to be part of the program?
DAVID STRICKLAND: We're working across a number of issues, and clearly the opportunity to talk about distraction is going to be a part of it. But we really want to make it very clear that there are so many issues. The five‑star crash test safety ratings we do at NHTSA is a very important component, tire safety ‑‑ there's some many things that are crosscutting with NASCAR and what they focus on for safety and what we focus on for safety for people on the roads every single day. So yes, distraction will be a component, but there are so many other issues and areas we're going to be working on, as well.
Q. How did this partnership come about? Who approached whom? And what were the earliest steps in making this happen?
DAVID STRICKLAND: Well, this has been something we've been working collaboratively on for some time, frankly even before my time as Administrator of NHTSA. The natural nexus between NASCAR's audience and frankly NHTSA's core audience we need to address are really one and the same, so we've been working on a number of conversation, and frankly we found the right Venn diagram for us to be able to have a fantastic campaign. I think the campaign over arc is going to be drive for safety, which will be able to sort of capture all the several elements, both vehicular level and behavioral level, and we're just so excited for Mike Helton and for Marcus and for everybody to have found a way for this that's going to be an amazing campaign and it's going to make a difference in lives across America.
MARCUS JADOTTE: NHTSA has certainly used NASCAR as part of its messaging platform for some time and we view this as a natural extension of that long‑term relationship between the industry and DOT.
Q. How are you going to roll this out? When do we see it?
MARCUS JADOTTE: Well, we are still working on the creative around the campaign, but we certainly expect late summer, early fall roll‑out of that creative, at‑track and around NASCAR events.
DAVID STRICKLAND: And this is, again, we want to thank NASCAR for frankly our past collaborations and efforts, especially around the Click It or Ticket Campaign, where we've had an amazing amount of success in reaching our target audience of 18‑to‑34‑year‑old men who have unfortunately the highest percentage of not buckling up in car trips, and we think our experiences on Click It or Ticket in other areas over the years, this sort of overarching campaign with the new creative and then this aspect is going to be even more successful.
Q. What is the biggest distraction of people on the roads today?
DAVID STRICKLAND: That's a great question, and there is sort of two aspects of it. The funny thing about distraction is people think about distraction only happening with the advent of the iPhone or the Android device in the car, but actually we've had distraction in vehicles since the first Model T where they first actually bolted a radio. So this is nothing new for the agency or for the American driving public. But scientifically speaking the biggest distraction in terms of what is the thing that has the biggest impact on drivers, it isn't a phone. Actually it's an insect in the car is the number one distraction believe it or not. On the other hand if you have a yellow jacket in your face in the car, you should be distracted. But a variety. But clearly the use of devices behind the wheel, especially with everybody in America has a phone, and we're becoming increasingly more connected. For us it really is one of these long‑term campaigns to get people to make sure they put it down and pay attention to driving every single trip.
Q. Ford just announced that it's reconfiguring some of what it does in order to help reduce distracted driving because a screen apparently is more distracting than knobs. Is NASCAR or your agency working to help car designers in how they do their dashboards, making it also less distracting?
DAVID STRICKLAND: That's a great question. Actually NHTSA issued in‑vehicle guidelines regarding visual manual distractions April of this year, which really does sort of follow the science in terms of what is and isn't distracting for a driver, including like how long you should be able to perform a particular function. You shouldn't have any scrolling text and no moving video, also including certain things that should be interlocked when the vehicle is in motion such as typing an address on your GPS. You shouldn't be able to do that while the vehicle is in motion and a number of other aspects. Those guidelines were recently released. The manufacturers are now working towards complying with them on a going forward basis, and we do think these guidelines really sort of capture the right approach to safety behind the wheel in regards to what's coming at the driver using the information interface. I can turn it to Marcus regarding NASCAR.
MARCUS JADOTTE: We stand ready to work with NHTSA on that kind of development and certainly our OEM partners. We believe NASCAR is a great platform for testing and development along those lines.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, everyone, for coming. We appreciate it.
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