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Crash Tests to Consider Electronic Crash-Avoidance Systems?

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Forward Collision Warning with Brake Support (Ford)

Forward Collision Warning with Brake Support (Ford).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is looking into changes in its five-star crash National Car Assessment Program’s (NCAP) impact testing that would give cars additional credits for new electronic accident-avoidance technologies.

NHTSA’s administrator, David Strickland, made this announcement recently at the first press day for the North American International Auto Show, where he spoke to the Society of Automotive Analysts, as Alex Nishimoto reports for Motor Trend’s blog Wide Open Throttle.

Strickland said such changes would help to raise consumer awareness of the new auto technologies and would encourage automakers to add such systems to more new cars, according to David E. Zoia for WardsAuto. The agency administrator added that a decision about incorporating these technologies in the crash-assessment testing could come soon.

The NHTSA is evaluating a number of auto safety systems, Strickland said, including forward-collision-warning and lane-departure-assistance, although he did not say exactly which technologies the agency is considering for NCAP add-on credits.

The agency will present a framework soon for in-vehicle electronics to help limit distracted driving. Strickland said an NHTSA study is equipping 2,000 vehicles with cameras to monitor driver behavior for two years, in order to collect data on distracted driving. The research results are expected to be announced in 2014.

The NHTSA believes that vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications technology will be “the next big safety breakthrough,” Zoia writes. He goes on to say:

V2V systems could eliminate 80% of crashes involving non-impaired drivers, he says, saying the technology could take U.S. fatalities down from almost 33,000 per year now ‘to 25,000, then 20,000.’

‘V2V is a main focus of NHTSA,’ he says, citing a 2-stage, 3-year test program it is undertaking in Ann Arbor, MI, with auto makers General Motors, Ford, Honda, Hyundai-Kia, Mercedes, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen to test the technology with consumers.

Strickland does not put a timetable on when V2V could be commercialized, but he did say that automatic crash notification can be available sooner, and holds the promise of reducing fatalities.

“Crash-worthiness has been the guiding star for NHTSA (since its inception),” Strickland said. “But if there’s an opportunity to prevent a crash — that is the goal.” He said 80% of car accidents are caused by driver error.

Image by Ford, used under Fair Use: Reporting.


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