HTSA to Announce New Voluntary Safety Standards
NHTSA to Announce New Voluntary Safety Standards
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) was created to put safety regulations in place so that Americans can travel safely. These safety measures extend to automobiles. The NHTSA is set to announce new safety guidelines to help prevent auto accidents. But here’s the rub – the standards are expected to be voluntary, meaning manufacturers won’t be punished by the law if they don’t abide by them.
This means that car manufacturers can add these safety features at their own discretion, giving them the authority. There is an incentive for automakers to put these safety features in place; they receive points, which comprise a vehicle’s safety rating.
This rating is especially useful for car buyers who are comparison shopping. However, allowing self-regulation will likely lead to more accidents, fatalities and recalls, safety advocates argue.
There are three main technologies that the NHTSA wants to voluntarily put in place:
- Dynamic Brake Support: This feature adds braking when the driver’s actions are not enough to avoid a collision.
- Forward Collision Warning: This feature uses audio and visual signals to alter the driver that there’s a possible collision ahead.
- Crash Imminent Braking: This feature steps in when the Forward Collision
Warning goes off and the driver fails to respond. It automatically slows down or applies the brakes to avoid a crash.
These three technologies combined make up Automatic Emergency Braking, which uses cameras, radar and lidar (laser light) to prevent accidents.
These features are already present in most high-end, luxury vehicles, and they seem to be working. So what about consumers who are low-income and middle class, and can’t afford a pricey new Lexus or Mercedes? Why should they feel less safe on the roadways just because they can’t afford a luxury vehicle? Without the NHTSA making these technologies mandatory on all vehicles, only a percentage of drivers benefit from the safety features.
Consumer advocates are asking that the NHTSA make these technologies mandatory on all vehicles to avoid rear-end collisions, which are increasingly common thanks to traffic and distractions. Every motorist should have access to the best safety features, not just the wealthy.
The NHTSA has made some bad decisions in the past couple years. There were two major vehicle recalls in 2014 – failed air bags and defective ignition switches – that affected many manufacturers. The agency was criticized for not properly handling these events, which led to hefty fines and numerous fatalities.