The National Transportation Safety Board has released a report recommending that the federal government and auto industry take immediate steps to ensure that collision avoidance systems become standard on all new passenger and commercial vehicles.
The report highlights evidence that such systems prevent or lessen the impact of rear-end crashes, and criticizes the slow progress in making the technology widely available. In 2014, only four out of 684 passenger vehicle models included a complete forward collision avoidance system as a standard feature.
"You don't pay extra for your seatbelt," said NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart. "And you shouldn't have to pay extra for technology that can help prevent a collision altogether."
According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, rear-end crashes kill about 1,700 people each year and injure half a million more. More than 80 percent of these deaths and injuries might have been mitigated had the vehicles been equipped with a collision avoidance system, the report asserts.
The report cites NTSB’s safety technology recommendations included in a 2001 report and decries the lack of progress in making life-saving collision avoidance technology widespread.
In particular, the report takes aim at NHTSA. The agency has taken “slow and insufficient action” to develop performance standards for these technologies and to create incentives for automakers to include collision avoidance systems as standard equipment, the report concludes. The report recommends that NHTSA develop tests and standards in order to rate the performance of each vehicle’s collision avoidance systems and to incorporate those results in an expanded 5-Star safety rating scale.
NTSB operates outside of the U.S. Department of Transportation, which includes NHTSA.
The NTSB report recommends that automakers first make collision warning systems standard and later add autonomous emergency braking once NHTSA completes standards for such braking systems.
Progress in developing autonomous safety features shouldn't be used as an excuse to delay action, Hart noted.
"The promise of a next generation of safety improvements has been used too often to justify inaction," Hart said.