Feds Fight to Make Collision Avoidance Systems Standard in All New Cars

On Wednesday, November 14th, in order to reduce accidents, the National Transportation Safety Board urged the government to make advanced safety technologies mandatory for all new vehicles. The NTSB wants rear-end collision warning, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and advanced braking systems, technologies which are already available by most manufacturers (although mostly an option or on luxury cars), to be standard on all vehicles sold in the U.S. market.

In addition, the NTSB wants the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to raise its performance requirements to the level set by luxury cars since the NHTSA’s own data indicates that run-off-road, rear-end, and lane change maneuvers account for 23, 28, and 9 percent of all highway accidents.

“Their full life-saving and crash avoidance potential will not be realized until supported by federal rule making and related standards.” said the board, noting that those systems can save thousands of lives.

In response, the NHTSA said that it is evaluating “possible rule making action for advanced crash avoidance and mitigation technologies that show great promise for both light and heavy vehicles”.

The NTSB and the NHTSA are moving in the right direction because saving even one life, never mind thousands, is a cause worth pursuing. However, there is a reason that these technologies are currently offered as standard mostly in luxury vehicles: those life saving technologies don’t come cheap and are included in the vehicle’s high price, which their buyers can afford to pay.

Auto Alliance, which represent auto manufacturers that account for 77 percent of all car and light truck sales in the U.S., points out, that such a mandate would make the price of more affordable vehicles greatly increase. The Alliance said that, theoretically, “every new technology could be a mandate” but ” every mandate is a cost to consumers.”

“Today, the average price of a new car is $30,000, more than half the median income in the U.S.”, it said in its statement. It then added, according to surveys, 60 percent of new car buyers will consider these systems when the time comes to buy s new car: “Automakers are offering for sale about 20 driver assist technologies, and we want consumers to decide which one makes the most sense for them.”