NTSB Wants Vehicle Collision Avoidance Tech Standardized

In its most recent batch of recommendations to ensure the well-being of drivers on the nation’s roads, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued the organization’s first-ever request that federal standards mandate vehicle collision avoidance technologies that alert motorists to dangers and can often prevent a variety of crashes.

Those technologies include systems that warn drivers about lane departures and danger of forward collisions, others that adjust cruise and stability control, and others still that apply brakes automatically.

“These technologies are available today in many vehicles,” the NTSB said in a statement. “However, they are options that a vehicle owner can add, and some technologies are not even required to meet performance standards.”

The latest Most Wanted List, which lists the top 10 transportation challenges in the coming year, is “available to policymakers at the state and federal levels as well as industry groups as they craft their priorities for 2013,” according to the NTSB.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that incidents involving vehicles run off the road account for 23 percent of all highway accidents, rear-ending accounts for 28 percent of them and improper lane changes account for 9 percent.

Car-to-car technologies vary in their features, but all can prevent fatal collisions in the incidents mentioned above. According to estimates from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the following figures represent the number of passenger vehicle deaths that can be prevented every year by respective car-to-car technology:

–Forward collision warning (879 fatalities)
–Electronic stability control (439 fatalities)
–Lane departure warning (247 fatalities)

“With such promising potential to improve highway safety, this technology should be robustly deployed throughout the passenger and commercial fleets,” the NTSB said.

Lowering of Crash Rate from Better Tech Has Insurance Implications

An analysis of claims data by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) broke down how such technologies are reducing the number and severity of insurance claims. Forward-collision technology, especially those with automatic braking, showed the biggest reduction in insurance claims; such systems detect when there is a risk of front-end collision, and some apply the brakes autonomously.

“Automakers can engineer vehicles to protect people in crashes and to even prevent costly damage to the vehicles themselves, but if we can prevent crashes altogether, that’s even better,” said David Zuby, IIHS chief research officer.

An America with crashless roadways was the topic of a report from research firm Celent, called “A Scenario: The End of Auto Insurance.” The May report outlined the impact of growing technologies, the predicted reduction of crashes such technologies would bring and the subsequent impact on coverage providers who are fighting over a smaller customer base that needs coverage less.

When it comes to how much car insurance costs with lower accident volume, the report predicts a large reduction in insurers’ revenue as automobile insurance premiums drop.

Currently, all collision avoidance technology is “market-driven,” according to the report, which predicted that such systems would become mandatory between 2018 and 2022.

Public May be Ready for Car-to-Car Technologies, Study Says

Also in May, Department of Transportation (DOT) surveys of hundreds of drivers showed that the motoring public is warming to car-to-car technologies like alert systems that warn about possible hazards.

According to the findings, 82 percent of those surveyed strongly felt that they would want to have car-to-car safety features in their own vehicle, while more than 90 percent said that such features would improve driving in real-world situations like changing lanes and checking blind spots.

“Vehicle-to-vehicle technologies have the potential to significantly reduce fatalities and injuries in crashes and could one day help motorists avoid crashes altogether,” David Strickland, an NHTSA administrator, said in a statement. “These technologies may prove to be the next game changer as we look at the future of auto safety.”

With the public appreciation for the safety benefits of such technologies already evident, the U.S. needs to mandate such technologies, according to the NTSB.

“Their full life-saving and crash-avoidance potential will not be realized until supported by federal rulemaking and related standards,” the NTSB said.

About Ben Zitney
Benjamin Zitney has been covering the auto insurance industry for the past 2.5 years. Before coming to Online Auto Insurance News, he produced an extensive company history of the 30-year-old California Joint Powers Insurance Authority and worked at the Cal State Long Beach Daily Forty-Niner as a reporter, copy editor and news editor.

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