Officials Recommend New Federal Safety Mandates for Cars

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recommended new federal mandates requiring auto makers to include modern crash-avoidance systems as standard equipment in all new cars. They say the systems have the potential to reduce by half the number of fatalities on American roads.

The safety systems include collision detection, adaptive cruise control, lane drift detection, and electronic stability control. Each of these safety features is available already on some new vehicles, but some are found only on high-end models.

Electronic stability control controls braking and throttle on a per-wheel basis in the event of a loss of traction. It is currently required on all new passenger vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds.

Lane drift detection systems monitor the vehicle’s position within its lane, warning the driver if the car begins to wander without signaling.

Forward collision detection, automatic braking, and adaptive cruise control all interact to autonomously control the vehicle’s speed. All require embedded sensors to detect the location of obstacles in the car’s path. Adaptive cruise control selectively applies a portion of the car’s available throttle or brakes to maintain a safe following distance. Collision detection alerts the driver when the vehicle is on a collision course. Automatic braking systems apply up to 100 percent of the car’s braking power in order to avoid a collision.

The NTSB also recommended mandates for tire-pressure monitoring systems and, for commercial trucks, speed-limiting systems.

Automakers warned of the effects such mandates would have on the cost of new cars, but safety advocates pointed out that economies of scale would likely reduce the per-vehicle cost.

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