National Consumers League

Implementation of automatic braking systems could save lives

sg.jpgConsumers received some pretty good news this week – 10 automakers will be installing automatic braking systems, representing 57 percent of the auto industry to do so. These systems, which will become standard equipment, use sensors to detect possible collisions. But, there is a catch.

The problem here is that not all automakers will be included, as this is a voluntary effort and there is no “due date” for these systems to be built into cars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which conducts valuable vehicle crash testing and is supported by the insurance industry, will be working on design and implementation.

Here’s the method to their madness: the government agency that regulates auto safety, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), could write a regulation to require braking systems to be standard equipment, and that takes a minimum of five years. But, if they can get the automakers to do it voluntarily, that speeds up the process. The downside is that automakers tend to drag their feet in implementing a lot of safety technology unless forced to do so by law. Volvo installed the automatic braking systems in several recent models and accidents decreased by 15 percent.

This is a good development for automotive safety because imagine that instead of having to sense that someone was pulling onto the road just as you were driving past or that someone was coming behind you at high speed – an automatic system of sensors would stop your car or the driver behind you. That could prevent countless accidents, injuries, and fatalities.

This is all on a hypothetical basis because we need all automakers to agree to support consumer safety and we need a faster timeline for when this technology will be implemented. The National Consumers League will be ready to cheer on these developments when they occur.