Safety Officials Push for Collision Avoidance Systems

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Safety officials in the U.S. are recommending what it calls the “life saving benefits” of a technology to become standard on all new commercial and passenger vehicles.

A new National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Special Investigation Report, The Use of Forward Collision Avoidance Systems to Prevent and Mitigate Rear-End Crashes stresses that collision avoidance systems can prevent or lessen the severity of rear-end crashes, to help save lives and reduce injuries.

According to statistics from the U.S. 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.

The NTSB has made 12 recommendations over 20 years in favor of forward collision avoidance technologies, including 10 recommendations resulting from an earlier special investigation report in 2001.

However, it said progress on these recommendations has been very limited. The report notes that a lack of incentives and limited public awareness has stunted the wide adoption of collision avoidance technology.

“The promise of a next generation of safety improvements has been used too often to justify inaction,” said Chairman Christopher A. Hart. “Because there will always be better technologies over the horizon, we must be careful to avoid letting perfection become the enemy of the good.”

NTSB does not have the power to implement new regulations. It can only make recommendations for new safety regulations to the U.S. Transportation Department and its agencies such as NHTSA, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and others.

According to NTSB, only four out of 684 passenger vehicle models in 2014 included a complete forward collision avoidance system as a standard feature. It claims when these systems are offered as options, they are often bundled with other non-safety features, making the overall package more expensive.

In the report, NTSB recommends that manufacturers make collision avoidance systems standard equipment in newly manufactured vehicles, beginning with collision warning systems, and adding autonomous emergency braking once NHTSA completes standards for such braking systems.

NTSB also 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 into its existing 5-star safety rating scale.

The board has also issued a companion “Safety Alert” for consumers and commercial fleet owners that urge them to consider vehicles with collision warning and autonomous emergency braking functions.

Shortly after the NTSB announcement, Meritor WABCO announced its support of the recommendation.

“The recommendations in today’s report are positively aligned with Meritor WABCO’s mission to improve road safety for everyone,” said Stephen Hampson, president and general manager, Meritor WABCO. “The proven performance of OnGuard collision mitigation systems since 2007 supports the NTSB report’s conclusions.”

According to Meritor WABCO, data that supports the recommendation for broader adoption of forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking systems include:

  • In 2013, there were 327,000 large truck crashes with 3,541 involving fatalities in the U.S., according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association.
  • In recently released data, FMCA estimates these fatal collisions resulted in approximately US$42 billion in total costs during 2013.
  • Reports from Meritor WABCO’s Fleet Advisory Council indicate that installation of OnGuard can reduce the number of rear-end collisions by as much as 87%.

The full report, including the conclusions and recommendations to NHTSA and to passenger vehicle, truck-tractor, motorcoach, and single-unit truck manufacturers can be viewed on the NTSB website.

You can also read the “Safety Alert: Addressing Deadly Rear-End Crashes” from the NTSB website.


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