Safety Officials Recommend Mandates for Crash-Avoidance Systems in Autos
Posted by: Briskman Briskman Greenberg
The National Transportation Safety Board has issued a new recommendation.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently issued a recommendation that the federal government require auto manufacturers to include the latest crash-avoidance technologies as standard equipment on all new automobiles, saying such a policy could cut in half the rate of fatal crashes on American roads.
The recommended technologies include collision detection systems, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning systems, and electronic stability control. Each feature is already available on some cars and trucks, but some are limited mainly to luxury vehicles. The NTSB said they should be mandated on all vehicles, despite concerns from auto industry representatives about the effect such a requirement would have on the cost of new cars.
“The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration should establish performance standards where still needed and mandate that these technologies be included as standard equipment in cars and commercial motor vehicles alike,” the NTSB said in a statement. “Their full life-saving and crash-avoidance potential will not be realized until supported by federal rule making and related standards.”
Electronic stability control selectively applies braking power to individual wheels when other wheels lose traction. Federal law already requires it in new passenger vehicles under 10,000 pounds.
Lane departure warning systems monitor the car’s position on the road. When the car drifts out of its lane without signaling, the system responds with audible and visible warnings.
Forward collision detection, automatic braking, and adaptive cruise control are interrelated. Sensors in the front of a vehicle detect the proximity of cars, people, and other objects in the vehicle’s path. Adaptive cruise control enables the car to automatically apply at least a portion of available braking power when traffic ahead slows and return to the set speed when traffic speeds up. Collision detection alerts the driver when the car is approaching something too quickly. Automatic braking allows the car to autonomously apply as much braking power as possible to avoid a collision with whatever lies in its path.
The NTSB also recommended mandates for tire-pressure monitoring systems and, for commercial trucks, speed-limiting systems.
Automakers are wary of the costs that would be added to all new vehicles should such safety features be mandated. Collision warning systems without automatic braking cost $1,000 to $3,000 per vehicle, according to government estimates, and those that include automatic braking cost about $3,500.
“In this still-fragile economy, maintaining affordability of new vehicles remains a concern,” said Gloria Vergquist, vice president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. “Today, the average price of a new vehicle is $30,000, more than half the median income in the U.S.”
But safety advocates pointed out that the per-vehicle cost of these safety features would decline if they were standard equipment on all cars.