The introduction of safety features follows a predictable path. The latest and greatest in safety is generally offered on more expensive models and often only as an option. Gradually, as the technology becomes more refined and less expensive, it trickles down into other cars. Some of it even becomes mandated through law like rear-view cameras. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) wants to see forward collision warning systems follow the same path.
The NTSB is pushing regulators and automakers to make crash avoidance technology a standard feature on every car. They’ve been asking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to mandate this technology since 2012 but have so far had no success.
Although they haven’t required this technology, the NHTSA is taking baby steps to encourage its implementation. They added two automatic emergency braking systems as recommended safety features for its five-star New Car Assessment Program back in January. Crash-imminent braking, which applies the brakes when a crash is about to happen, and dynamic brake support, which increases brake pressure to maximum, are now recommended features.
The NTSB doesn’t think this is good enough. They want to see collision-avoidance systems as standard features on every vehicle no matter how little that vehicle may cost. Collision warning systems are first on their list with automatic emergency braking to follow as they develop a set of standards for these systems.
It seems like adding in life-saving safety technology would be easy, but automakers take issue. They claim it could raise the cost of your next vehicle by thousands of dollars. Their argument is that the government shouldn’t be mandating these features. Instead, the consumer should have the choice of whether or not they want to spend the extra money for a car with collision avoidance technology.
Some might not see that as no choice at all. There are people who might want it very much, but if they can’t afford the more expensive models, they’re forced into purchasing a cheaper model without newer safety features.
The same could easily happen with the mandates in place. Some consumers could be prevented from purchasing a new car altogether due to the increased cost of having collision warning systems in even the cheapest of models.
NTSB figures show that rear-end crashes killed 1,705 people in 2012 and injured 547,000 more in the US alone. They estimate that about 87 percent of those deaths and injuries could have been prevented or lessened with crash avoidance technology. It’s clear that this technology will make us all safer on the road, but the extra costs involved make it an uphill fight to mandate in every vehicle.