From our first incarnation in 1962 as the American Seat Belt Council (ASBC), through our transformation to Automotive Occupant Restraints Council (AORC) in 1991, to our newest version as Automotive Safety Council, our organization has grown, transformed and responded to represent our members in the evolving automotive safety industry in a unique way. In the earliest days, the American Seat Belt Council’s Seal of Approval assured that the new life-saving devices installed for the first time in passenger vehicles met quality and engineering standards. At the same time the Council launched educational programs to inform motorists about the benefits and function of seat belts and began working for state legislation to require seat belt use nationally.
When the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was formed in 1966, the first standard for passenger seat belts, FMVSS 209, was based on the benchmark developed by the American Seat Belt Council in conjunction with the Society of Automotive Engineers. From this precedent to present day, the Council continues to work closely with the NHTSA in setting the standards for automotive safety. For fifty years, the Council has been the resource for regulatory agencies; partner with sister organizations in promoting vehicle safety; and agent for its members’ products and technologies.
Throughout our existence, the Council has been in the forefront of public safety education and promotion of the life-saving benefits of its members’ products.
- Founded the Saved by the Belt Club in 1978, which enrolled more than 35,000 survivors nationwide over the next decade, including many celebrities, sports figures and public officials. Chapters still exist in dozens of states today.
- Developed “3 Seconds to Safety” in 1984; a reading program about seat belts aimed at grades three to six, which became a prototype for other such safety awareness programs.
- A founding member of Traffic Safety Now, a government/industry alliance begun in 1984 to promote passage of mandatory seat belt laws in the U.S. as a cost-effective means of reducing traffic fatalities and injuries. The alliance ended its mission in 1992, having achieved passage of belt use laws in 43 states and the District of Columbia.
- AORC hosted the first Airbag Technology Fair in Washington, DC in 1997 to combat misinformation about airbags and to educate legislators, regulators, the public and the media about inflatable restraints technology.
- A charter member of the Air Bag Safety Campaign, begun in 1997 in response to airbag-related child passenger fatalities, the Council contributed $500,000 to the two-year outreach to reduce child passenger fatalities to 25% and increase national seat belt usage to 90%. The success of the campaign extended its programs for an additional eight years during which the Council and its members provided leadership, technical expertise and $2 million in total funding.
- Held a national press conference in Washington, DC in 2002 to publicize the dangers of reuse of salvaged/recycled airbags. The Council widely disseminated its “Tip Sheet” to protect consumers from false airbags.
- Staged a well-received Congressional Technology Fair in 2007 in Washington, DC with the theme “Integrating Active and Passive Safety for the Future”. The many exhibits introduced legislators and regulators to safety technologies developed by AORC member companies to meet federal safety mandates for new vehicles.
The Council has assumed a key leadership role in joint government/industry Working Groups to address emerging safety issues and craft regulatory precepts focusing on ejection in rollovers; electronic data recording; low risk deployment with child safety seats; airbag reuse/recycling; international transportation of inflatable restraints components and many other topics of value to our industry.We continue to maintain a reputation for integrity, veracity and expertise, which permits us to liaise with government regulators on technical issues of value to our members and of vital importance to the motoring public. The Council is recognized as a primary resource for technical and educational data by federal and state governments, emergency responders, national media and the general public. Our fifty years in automotive passenger safety has made the Council the acknowledged industry leader. With a new name, we now move confidently into new product areas, new global arenas and new regulatory challenges.
Throughout the evolution of our organization our mission has remained constant: To save lives and reduce vehicle-related injuries globally through the use of lifesaving occupant protection systems and the latest crash avoidance technologies. Our international membership encompasses both the old-guard of the occupant restraints industry and firms engaged in the newest cutting-edge electronics and virtual modeling. As we look to expand into Asian and South American markets, we will continue to demonstrate the reputation, expertise and representation that have marked our success for the last fifty years.