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NTSB: Collision avoidance systems should become standard equipment

Shopping for a new car is now a much different experience that it was just a decade ago thanks in large part to advances in automotive technology. Indeed, while consumers used to be intrigued by the prospect of features like sunroofs, leather seats and multi-disc changers, they now want these features plus things like in-dash touch screen consoles, Bluetooth capability and even WiFi.

What is sometimes lost among this quest for the newest creature comforts, however, is a consideration of the latest safety technology. In fact, many consumers might be unaware of the degree to which this safety technology has advanced, such that seatbelts, airbags and anti-lock brakes are no longer the only things available to protect the lives of vehicle occupants.

Take for example, the development of collision avoidance systems, which are comprised of anywhere from one to four elements, including:

  • Audible warnings that alert a driver that a rear-end collision is imminent
  • Automatic braking systems that either assist the driver with stopping or stop the car on their own to prevent rear-end collisions
  • Lane departure warnings alerting a driver when they are drifting
  • Electronic stability control

Interestingly enough, the National Transportation Safety Board issued a 60-page report earlier this week calling for rear-end collision avoidance systems to become standard safety equipment on all new vehicles -- both passenger and commercial.

In the report, the NTSB recommends that this effort start with collision warning systems -- the audible alerts -- becoming standardized equipment followed by the actual emergency braking assistance once standards for this technology have been set by the National Highway Safety Transportation Agency.

The agency report indicates that these collision avoidance systems would go a long way toward reducing the severity of rear-end crashes, which leave 500,000-plus people with serious personal injuries every year. Furthermore, it argues that the technology could also go a long way toward reducing the number of wrongful deaths associated with rear-end crashes, which currently average close to 1,700 every year.

As for the added costs to automakers for making this standard equipment, the NTSB seemed less than sympathetic.

"You don't pay extra for your seat belt, and you shouldn't have to pay extra for technology that can help prevent a collision altogether," said the NTSB chair.

What are your thoughts on this subject? Should collision avoidance systems become standard equipment? Does it change your mind if it will increase the costs for new car buyers?

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