Tech industry veteran Bernie Sapienza has been named executive VP of the Vision Zero Automotive Network (VZAN), a non-profit organization that promotes car safety products.
Still in its inaugural year, Vision Zero was founded by Jeff Varick, CEO of Brandmotion, a designer and supplier of automotive aftermarket products. The group is based on a road safety initiative launched in Sweden in the 1990s that encourages lower speed limits, better-designed roadways and intersections, and, more recently, anti-texting laws.
VZAN is comprised of U.S. retailers and car accessories vendors that also promote the use of aftermarket tech products to bring the latest safety technology to older automobiles, including night and 360 vision, blind-spot warning, backup cameras and collision avoidance.
“It’s a great cause and a great opportunity,” Sapienza said, citing a 2015 Boston Consulting Group study suggesting that 10,000 traffic deaths could be prevented annually if all cars had the latest available safety technology.
“Most people simply don’t know that they can add these technologies to their existing cars,” he said. “With industry unity and cooperation, we can create awareness [and] drive traffic to retailers. This would help the entire 12-volt aftermarket and, most importantly, would help to save lives.”
Sapienza, formerly chief merchant at Tweeter Home Entertainment and business development VP at HD Radio developer iBiquity Digital, succeeds Jim Warren, Vision Zero’s founding executive director. Warren now serves as executive director of the Elite Distributor Alliance (EDA).
In his new role, Sapienza will primarily focus on soliciting financial contributions for the new organization, and has already reached out to companies including Amazon, Best Buy, Car Toys and Crutchfield, he said.