The National Transportation Safety Board would like to see collision avoidance technologies made standard in all vehicles, a move that it says will cut traffic fatalities by more than half. However, automakers say the move would be too costly.
Increasing awareness of collision avoidance technologies
The NTSB added motor vehicle collision avoidance technologies to its Most Wanted List on Wednesday, November 14. Although the board does not have the authority to mandate such a move, it would like to see efforts in that direction. The board’s list, issued annually since 1990, is intended to “increase awareness of, and support for, the most critical changes needed to reduce transportation accidents and save lives.”
The board said accidents involving going off the road, rear-ending and those involving lane changes accounted for 60 percent of the nation’s 32,000 traffic fatalities in 2011. Most of those, it said, could be avoided by the adoption of these technologies as standard equipment.
The kinds of technologies it would like to see standard on all cars include forward collision warning, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and automatic braking.
Forward collision warning systems alert drivers of impending situations that could cause an accident. Some such systems include automatic brakin, that slows the vehicle, independent of the driver’s actions, when a crash is imminent. Lane departure warning systems alert drivers when a vehicle changes lane in front of them without signaling. Adaptive cruise control regulates the speed and deceleration of a vehicle to maintain a safe distance from vehicles ahead of it.
Some vehicles already have these technologies built into them. But they are generally offered only as expensive options.
Too costly, automakers say
The automobile industry says making these technologies standard would raise the sticker price of vehicles by thousands of dollars. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said that to just add collision warning systems that don’t automatically apply the brakes would add $1,000 to $3,000 to a car bank loan.
Gloria Bergquist, vice president of the alliance, said:
“Automakers see great promise from their driver-assist technologies, and we are urging consumers to check them out, but the choice to purchase one or more belongs to consumers In this still-fragile economy, maintaining affordability of new vehicles remains a concern. Today, the average price of a new vehicle is $30,000, more than half the median income in the U.S.”
Traffic safety advocates counter, however, that those costs would go down should the systems become standard.
AAM figures questioned
Autoblog, however, finds the AAM’s figures dubious, since “such systems generally don’t command that kind of money on current models that have them as options.”