Each year, thousands of people are killed and injured in preventable crashes. Collision-avoidance and connected-vehicle technologies can help mitigate the severity of such crashes or even stop them from occurring in the first place.
These technologies include forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking, which can warn the driver of an upcoming hazard and act if the driver doesn’t respond. Connected-vehicle technologies allow vehicles to relay important safety information to each other to avoid crashes.
Yet, most passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles (such as heavy-duty trucks and school buses) on the road today are not equipped—nor required to be equipped—with such life-saving technologies. And consumers are often unaware of the availability and capabilities of these technologies. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not developed comprehensive performance standards for these technologies, nor does it effectively evaluate them and include this information in its vehicle safety ratings.
Additionally, we were alarmed by the recent regulatory decision by the Federal Communications Commission to substantially shrink the communication spectrum dedicated to connected-vehicle technology. If this decision is not reversed, safety progress could be hindered.
Lessons Learned: NTSB Investigations
The following crashes and report best exemplify why this safety improvement is needed.
Collision Between a Sport Utility Vehicle Operating with Partial Driving Automation and a Crash Attenuator
Mountain View, CA | March 2018
Motorcoach Collision with Combination Vehicle After
Traffic Break on Interstate 10
Palm Springs, CA | October 2016
SIR-The Use of Forward Collision Avoidance Systems
to Prevent and Mitigate Rear-End Crashes | May 2015
Stats to Know
Lives lost in motor vehicle crashes in 2019; however, there as a 4.6% increase in the first 9 months of 2020, according to preliminary data (Source: NHTSA)
Estimated rear-end collisions that could be prevented if vehicles have forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking systems (Source: IIHS/HLDI)
Years the NTSB has been advocating for collision-avoidance technologies (Source: NTSB)
Our Solutions-Take Action Now!
We need more vehicles equipped with these life-saving technologies, and vehicle and fleet owners should be more informed about their benefits.
- Complete standards for collision-warning and automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems in commercial vehicles and require this technology in all highway vehicles and all new school buses.
- Develop performance standards for connected-vehicle technology and restart the proposed rulemaking to require this technology be installed on all newly manufactured highway vehicles.
- Improve consumer awareness about collision-avoidance systems available in passenger vehicles by improving how these technologies are tested, evaluated, and rated in the New Car Assessment Program’s 5-star rating system.
Vehicle Manufacturers/Dealers should:
- Install and make standard in all vehicles forward-collision avoidance systems that, at a minimum, include a collision-warning component. They should not just be options sold as part of expensive add-on packages.
- Educate consumers on the capabilities and limitations of forward-collision avoidance systems.
- Buy vehicles with collision warning and AEB systems, and learn how these systems work to understand their limitations. There is no replacement for an alert driver. Collision-avoidance systems can help drivers avoid crashes in some scenarios, but drivers must still always remain alert.
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Updated October 5, 2021