A proposed bill would force federal automotive safety regulators to consider the presence of collision avoidance technology when determining safety ratings on new vehicles.
The legislation proposed by U.S. Sens. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Ed Markey, D-Mass., and U.S. Reps. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., comes as the National Transportation Safety Board called once again for collision avoidance technology to be standard equipment on new vehicles.
The Safety Through Informed Consumers Act, if passed, it would require the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to integrate “active safety technology” into its five-star crashworthiness ratings.
“The Safety Through Informed Consumers Act is a necessary piece of legislation to ensure American families are well-versed on whether vehicles they are looking to purchase are equipped with the newest, state-of-the-art safety technology,” said Heller in a statement.
“Given recent issues surrounding ignition switch defects, airbag defects, and numerous vehicle recalls, this bipartisan-bicameral legislation will help restore consumers’ confidence in the safety of their vehicles. I look forward to working with Senator Markey and Congressmen Rokita and Blumenauer in order to move this legislation through Congress.”
Currently, the rating system measures the level of safety provided by vehicles in frontal and side crashes and rollovers. The results are posted on window stickers for new cars.
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While the use of collision avoidance technology and other advanced technologies, such as stability control, aren’t factored into the ratings, NHTSA does identify vehicles with those options in its ratings system.
Markey said including this type of technology as part of the rating system is important because consumers value what the see on the window sticker, in particular, the five-star rating system.
“Today’s five-star safety rating system only tells them how safe they are in the vehicle once a crash occurs, ignoring any features like collision warning and automatic emergency braking, that can help avoid that crash in the first place,” he said.
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Earlier this week the National Transportation Safety Board repeated its call for making collision avoidance technology standard equipment on vehicles, like airbags. Perhaps more importantly, the agency thinks it should come at no cost to consumers.
“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 Christopher Hart, chairman, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
The agency released a 60-page report outlining the need for the technology, suggesting that more than 80% of the 1,700 deaths and 500,000 injuries in the 1.7 million rear-end collisions in 2012 could have been eliminated or lessened if the technology were mandated.
(Federal safety officials want to mandate crash avoidance tech. Click Here for the story.)
Currently, the technology is typically available on high-priced vehicles as part of a larger suite of technologies, such as adaptive cruise control. Including the option on a vehicle generally adds at least $1,000 to the price of the vehicle. Aftermarket versions can be purchased for as little as $1,100.