General Motors swaggered into 2003's Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show with a new land-speed record for the Saturn brand and a show presence that verged on rivaling title sponsor Ford, which made it abundantly clear to the aftermarket community that The General is, as stated in a press release, "committed to offering 'gotta-have' vehicles, parts, and technology."

To underscore the significance of SEMA to GM, it even unveiled its new Hummer sport utility truck (SUT). This is the first time an automaker has used the SEMA show as a platform to announce a new model, a marketing activity usually reserved for public auto shows, such as the Los Angeles International Auto Show or the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. GM also announced future Performance Division offerings, featuring several new powertrain applications.

Clearly, GM is taking SEMA seriously, as is virtually every automaker in the North American market, and next month, we'll have extensive coverage of the 2003 SEMA show, with a special section on the ramping up of factory involvement in the show. In the meantime, GM hosted a little preview of things to come at California Street Rods in Huntington Beach, California.

New General Motors Study Shows Daytime Running Lamps Continue To Reduce CrashesContinuing its safety and technology leadership, General Motors announced results of a study that shows GM customers have avoided more than 37,000 collisions since daytime running lamps (DRLs) became standard equipment in 1995.

DRLs, exterior front lamps that automatically illuminate when a vehicle is started, increase vehicle visibility for other drivers and pedestrians in a variety of daytime conditions, including fog, rain, dusk, and bright sunlight. To date, GM has sold more than 30 million vehicles in the United States and Canada with DRLs as standard equipment.

Using information from police and collision reports, and traffic registration data from 17 states, the study shows estimated reductions in daytime multiple vehicle crashes ranging from 2.3 percent to nearly 12.5 percent, depending on the driving condition, type of DRL used, and type of collision. The study analyzed conditions, including daylight at dawn/dusk, daylight with good/poor visibility, daylight on highway/local streets, as well as multiple vehicle, pedestrian, child pedestrian, head-on, and motorcycle crashes.

The findings showed statistically significant reductions in several different crash types. The most dramatic reduction involved DRL-relevant vehicle-to-pedestrian crashes. Through 2001, it's estimated that DRLs have helped drivers avoid 772 pedestrian collisions, with children under the age of 12 accounting for 348 of these avoided collisions - a nearly 15 percent reduction. This is a 6 percent increase in the rate of reduction of pedestrian crashes since an initial DRL analysis was performed for GM in 2000 by Exponent Failure Analysis Associates.

There were 4,808 pedestrian traffic-related deaths in 2002, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Cumulatively, NHTSA estimates motor vehicle crashes costs society $230.6 billion a year, about $820 per person.

In December 2001, GM filed a petition with NHTSA, asking it to adopt rule-making that would require all automakers to install DRLs on new vehicles sold in the U.S. The petition covered passenger vehicles, multipurpose passenger vehicles, trucks, and buses.