SafelyThere Stories

Using Education to Help Save Lives

Jeff Skvarce, Crash and Regulatory Research Manager, spends most of his time paying close attention to trends, policies and research that impact vehicle safety. 

“My job is to follow trends and apply research to topics like intersections, head on-collisions, pedestrian crashes and more to support project teams working on mobility solutions,” Jeff explained. “To bolster the efforts of getting safety technologies into more vehicles, I also help educate lawmakers and regulators about potentially lifesaving vehicle technologies by engaging in research with universities, and supporting various conferences and safety groups. I then digest this information and ensure my Continental colleagues are informed on what I learn.”

Shortly after joining Continental in 1992, Jeff began working on brake systems and supported the rollout of electronic stability control (ESC). As Jeff worked on ESC, he really came to understand its lifesaving potential. In fact, a study done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) shows that the risk of a fatal passenger-vehicle rollover is reduced by 72 percent with the addition of ESC.

In parallel, Jeff began to understand the influence Continental and other companies in the automotive safety industry could have on government regulations of safety technology through education.

“I began working with the National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA) to provide test and simulation data to educate regulators on the benefits of ESC, and support development of an ESC Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard,” Jeff recalled. “We also educated safety advocate groups like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Consumer Reports on the benefits of ESC technology.”

From Education to Impact

Continental, convinced of the lifesaving potential of ESC, launched consumer education campaigns, largescale advertisements and even a traveling ESC educational roadshow to bring awareness to the technology and help people understand how it works. As of 2012, ESC is mandatory on all new vehicles – likely saving countless lives. Something that motivates Jeff each and every day. 

“My uncle was killed as a teenager following a road departure before I met him, my niece was seriously injured riding a tri-cycle in her neighborhood and I witnessed the aftermath of a highway crash where a parent was holding their kid on the highway amongst the wreckage,” Jeff remembered. 

All of these crashes may have been avoided with the technology available today – technology we are working on at Continental.

Jeff’s research helps to identify specific crash types, like those that take place around intersections or those caused by wrong-way drivers, which helps engineers working on advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) determine if new solutions can be developed. He often thinks of his personal experiences when he is researching trends and is motivated to work with colleagues to engineer technologies that can help prevent or mitigate crashes.

“It's interesting that our government intentionally avoids using the word ‘accident’ to describe a vehicle collision because ‘accidents,’ by definition, are not avoidable. Instead they, identify ALL of them as ‘crashes’ that are avoidable with the right education and ADAS technology,” Jeff said.

The ADAS technologies that Jeff’s research helps to shape continue to become more widely available to car buyers.

“ADAS functions are ready and available today on most vehicles,” Jeff said. “As these ADAS features get into more vehicles, the general driving public will become more aware of these building-block technologies and their lifesaving potential. We believe that widespread adoption of these features will help us inch closer to Vison Zero: zero traffic fatalities, injuries and, ultimately, crashes.”