NTSB calls on feds to standardize collision avoidance technology

By David Tanner, senior editor

The National Transportation Safety Board has brought a recommendation of collision avoidance technology to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration a total of 12 times over the past 20 years. The agency once again delivered a recommendation to the feds in mid-June.

NTSB says rear-end crashes claimed 1,705 lives in 2012 and injured half a million. The agency believes

80 percent of those crashes could be prevented or made less severe through collision avoidance technology. Since only four of the 684 passenger vehicle models made in 2014 have the technology as standard equipment, any potential mandate would take years to phase in and would add cost to the sticker price of new vehicles.

Collision avoidance, also referred to as collision mitigation, involves forward-facing radar and driver warning alerts. Some systems go further and include autonomous emergency braking.

For commercial trucks, NTSB says it is “disappointed with the lack of progress” of performance standards for new vehicles. The agency wants the feds to go ahead “even without the existence of published performance standards.”

NTSB believes autonomous emergency braking, which applies the brakes based on what the forward-facing radar reads and sends to the truck’s computer, would reduce CMV crashes that involve the truck striking another vehicle from behind.

Bendix and Meritor WABCO are two leading manufacturers of collision mitigation systems.

OOIDA says the NTSB’s advocacy efforts continue to push for technology in lieu of a driver training standard that the NTSB’s own board has recommended.

“While the PR statements from manufacturers have generally been pretty honest about the capabilities of their systems and the continued need to a skilled driver behind the wheel of any vehicle, NTSB’s recent advocacy efforts in this area are largely silent about the limitations of the systems today and in the future,” said Ryan Bowley of OOIDA’s Washington, D.C., office.

“Technology is no silver bullet for highway safety, and the foundation of safer roads must be a skilled driver behind the wheel. OOIDA wishes that the NTSB had taken such an active role in pressuring the DOT to move forward with the recommendations on truck driver training standards issued by its own board back in the 1970s, which are still technically incomplete.” LL