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NTSB Pushes for Forward Collision Avoidance Systems

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Automatic braking system in Mercedes C Class

Automatic braking system in Mercedes C Class

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recommended that forward collision avoidance systems become a standard feature on all new passenger and commercial vehicles. The board made the statement in a special new investigative report, “The Use of Forward Collision Avoidance Systems to Prevent and Mitigate Rear-End Crashes,” according to an NTSB press release.

“Collision avoidance systems can prevent or lessen the severity of rear-end crashes, thus saving lives and reducing injuries,” the press release says. Although the NTSB has recommended forward collision avoidance systems 12 times in the last 20 years, progress has been very limited, the press release says, because of a lack of incentives and limited public awareness of the benefits of the technology.

NTSB writes:

According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rear-end crashes kill about 1,700 people every year and injure half a million more. More than 80% of these deaths and injuries might have been mitigated had the vehicles been equipped with a collision avoidance system.

In the 60-page report, NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart says consumers should not have to pay extra for forward collision avoidance systems, as they are not charged extra for seat belts, writes Todd Spangler for the Detroit Free Press in an article appearing in USA Today.  In the past, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers has said the decision to buy a vehicle equipped with such a system should stay with consumers, Hart writes, adding that the industry group did not respond immediately for a comment on the NTSB’s recent recommendation.

The NTSB’s recommendations are that auto manufacturers make collision avoidance systems a standard feature, starting with collision warning systems, and eventually upgrading them to autonomous emergency braking systems as soon as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finishes writing its standards for that technology, Spangler writes.

The Board also asks the NHTSA to rate the effectiveness of each vehicle’s collision avoidance systems and incorporate those ratings to the Administration’s New Car Assessment Programs’ 5-star safety rating scale, Spangler writes. “Forward collision avoidance systems include collision warning monitors which alert a driver that a crash is imminent and can assist the driver with braking or brake the vehicle for him or her,” he writes.

There are only four passenger vehicles that last year included a complete forward collision avoidance system as a standard feature, NTSB writes. The 2015 models that have standard automatic braking include the Mercedes-Benz C Class, CLS class, G class, GLA class, and S class; every Volvo model; and two BMW models, the 760Li and the i8, as Russ Rader, senior vice president of communications for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, told this blog in a phone conversation. “This is about the fastest rollout of an important safety system that we’ve seen; the automakers are very much in the lead here,” Rader said.


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