WASHINGTON, D.C. --- Calling road safety a shared responsibility, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said lower 2008 road fatalities underscore why automakers and policymakers "need to continue engaging consumers while relying on sound data and engineering innovation to advance sustainable, safe mobility."  

The number of traffic deaths on U.S. roads last year reached a record low, while safety belt use continued climbing, according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. 

"Engineers track and analyze real-world data to improve our shared understanding of problems and solutions," said Dave McCurdy, president and CEO of the alliance. "Safety progress results from industry and regulators using this data and sound science to work together and produce effective policy." 

The group said its members have enhanced safety -- and led regulations -- through the introduction of many safety technologies, including anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, side airbags for head and chest protection, side curtain airbags, radar use for collision avoidance, and more. Auto engineers developed and introduced safety technology like forward collision warning, post-crash notification, lane departure notification warning systems, night vision with pedestrian detection, collision warning with brake support, blind spot detection and more. 

"The alliance is looking now toward future safety," said McCurdy. "We're focusing on partnerships, such as working with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), to explore technology to help reduce drunk driving. In addition, automakers are continuing their high-tech research and implementation of new safety technologies, such as autonomous braking systems and vehicle safety communications systems for crash avoidance." 

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is a trade association of 11 car and light truck manufacturers including BMW Group, Chrysler, Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota and Volkswagen.