At the same time that Toyota introduced a conceptual fuel-cell vehicle in Tokyo and was displaying the redesigned 2014 Highlander Hybrid for the first time in Los Angeles, the automaker’s North American V.P. of Automotive Operations, Bob Carter, told a crowd of reporters that Toyota is more concerned about highway safety than it is about environmental issues.
To underscore this position, Carter discussed a new initiative aimed at educating teenagers about the dangers of distracted driving, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says caused one in every 10 fatal accidents on American roads in 2012. Since teenagers are four times more likely to be involved in or die in a car crash, Toyota’s new Teen Drive 365 website is designed to educate parents and their children about safe habits for new drivers.
Additionally, in 2011, Toyota committed $50 million over five years to found the Collaborative Safety Research Center (CSRC), an organization dedicated to safety research in partnership with universities and hospitals. Now, at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show, Toyota and the CSRC introduced the Driver Awareness Research Vehicle (DAR-V), a Sienna minivan pimped out with Microsoft-sourced technology.