Car safety regulators say anti-crash systems should come standard

Many of the safety features that come standard on today’s vehicles are designed to help minimize injuries when accidents occur: air bags, crumple zones, seat belts and roll bars, to name a few. In recent years, however, continuing technological advancements have increased the potential to protect motorists by preventing traffic accidents from occurring in the first place. Now, federal safety regulators say those features should come standard, too.

Collision-avoidance systems monitor the area around a vehicle for potential crash hazards using sensors, cameras and other technology. When a nearby crash risk is detected, the system can issue a warning to the driver so that he or she can take steps to avoid the crash, and can also assist with braking if necessary. These systems have become increasingly available as an optional feature on new passenger vehicles over recent years, but they have yet to be widely offered as a standard safety feature.

A renewed call to action

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a federal agency that oversees vehicle safety and emission standards, has been recommending widespread use of crash-prevention technology for years. In 2012, the agency issued a call for collision-avoidance systems to be required in all new vehicles sold nationwide, but in 2014 only four of the 684 vehicle models available for sale in the U.S. came standard with complete forward collision-avoidance technology.

In a recent report, the NHTSA once again urged lawmakers to take action on this issue, saying the move could prevent thousands of crash-related injuries and deaths every year – particularly those caused by rear-end collisions, which make up about half of all two-car traffic accidents overall. Nearly nine out of 10 rear-end accidents are caused by inattentive or distracted drivers, government crash data shows.

In Minnesota, there were a total of 21,117 rear-end collisions in 2013 alone, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. Those crashes caused 8,863 injuries and 21 deaths. The NHTSA estimates that about 80 percent of rear-end crashes resulting in injury or death could be mitigated by requiring new cars and trucks to be equipped with crash-prevention systems.

Crash preventions systems could soon factor into safety ratings

Although it stops short of requiring the systems in all cars, new legislation being considered by federal lawmakers would require vehicle safety ratings to incorporate information about crash-avoidance systems. The five-star rating system currently in use focuses primarily on features that help keep occupants safer in a crash and does not include information about crash-avoidance systems that can help avoid accidents altogether. Supporters of the proposed legislation say it would be an important step toward making sure car buyers have a clear idea of whether a vehicle is equipped with state-of-the-art safety features.

When car accidents result in serious injuries or death, those who have been injured or lost a loved one are often able to recover financial compensation to help offset their medical expenses, lost wages and other damages stemming from the crash. Contact Paige J. Donnelly, Ltd., to learn about your options if you or someone in your family has been hurt in a crash.

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