Lane departure warning and collision avoidance systems have largely been the province of upscale automakers or the range-topping trims in volume models, but that's beginning to change. Apparently, however, the National Transportation Safety Board feels that such safety features should not be the preserve of the well-to-do, however, suggesting that this technology should be made standard on all new cars and trucks. This announcement comes as the NTSB adds "Collision Avoidance" to its Most Wanted List, which the board uses to "increase awareness of, and support for, the most critical changes needed to reduce transportation accidents and save lives."
The government agency suggests that the entire suite of collision avoidance technologies be made compulsory, including adaptive cruise control, automatic braking and electronic stability control. Last year, there were more than 32,000 traffic deaths, and the NTSB says inclusion of these technologies in all vehicles could cut fatal highway accidents in half.
Automakers warn that inclusion of these technologies as standard equipment will raise the base price on vehicles by thousands of dollars. According to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, passive warning systems cost about $1,000 to $3,000 per vehicle, while active systems that apply the brakes if the driver does not respond to warnings could cost as much as $3,000 per car. While Autoblog acknowledges that the cost of such systems is prohibitive – and not all of us are fans of such systems – the AAM's numbers strike us as a bit curious, as such systems generally don't command that kind of money on current models that have them as options.
For their part, safety advocates counter that cost-per-vehicle would come down with volume. According to an NTSB board member, "Some of this technology could be done for literally just a few dollars," he continued, "I don't think we're talking about adding thousands of dollars to a car."
As part of this year's Most Wanted list, the board also suggested that automakers create systems that disable all but the most essential mobile phone functions. This, combined with the suite of collision alert systems would result in a driver that is more informed of his/her surroundings and not distracted while driving.