New NHTSA Is In Deep Waters As Safety Groups May Sue Them For Automatic Braking Mandate

New NHTSA Is In Deep Waters As Safety Groups May Sue Them For Automatic Braking Mandate
Rear end collision incidents have been growing more and more each year. Most of these are caused by driver distraction and unawareness of their surroundings. Consumers are now asking for auto-braking feature on cars. Photo : Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for Amazon Prime Video

Each year, accidents have been causing injuries and fatalities on the road. Most of these accidents could have been prevented if only the cars involved were equipped with the correct safety technology. Features such as forward collision warning, crash imminent braking, and dynamic brake support could have changed the way cars reacted to obstacles and could have prevented thousands of fatalities that were caused by road accidents.

The Petition From Three Safety Advocates Were Ignored By The NHTSA

On January 2016, safety advocates Consumer Watchdog, Center for Auto Safety, and Joan Claybrook filed a petition to the National Highway Traffic safety Administration to make automatic braking a safety standard for all new cars that will be manufactured. However, the NHTSA failed to respond within a required 120 timeline that expired in May 2016. This led the three safety advocates to file a lawsuit to the NHTSA.

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an estimated 910,000 crashes in the United States alone could have been prevented if the automatic braking features have been equipped to vehicles. Just this year, more than 20 car manufacturers have vowed to make the safety technology a standard for their vehicles by the year 2022. Audi, Ford, Mazda, BMW and Toyota are some of these manufacturers, to name a few.

The potential problem is that even if these manufacturers equip their vehicles with automatic braking technology, it is still purely voluntary. Meaning that they can pull out and take the equipment off their cars whenever they want to. They will also not be breaking the law in doing so since the government never mandated it. The safety groups and advocates are asking to make the rule governed by law, thus preventing manufacturers from taking out the system freely, even if they wanted to.

The NHTSA Needs To Focus On What Can Save Lives Now

According to Consumer Watchdog, "The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has devoted excessive agency resources to driverless vehicles, which are decades away from being complete, while safety systems that can save lives right now are ready but have been left to the decision of the auto companies." No statement or response has been issued yet by the NHTSA. The safety advocates are on the right track on facing the issue that can be fixed now as lives are lost every day until a permanent solution is done. The NHTSA have focused on driver discipline and awareness in the past, however, that is a factor that cannot control.

They have failed to use the statutory authority that they have been given in order to make the roads safe within their controlled parameters. The NHTSA clearly have all the right to mandate state laws that will keep the citizens and road users safe but have completely ignored the call to action. The safety advocate, who includes Joan Claybrook, a former NHTSA commissioner, can only hope that they respond immediately and still consider the requested mandate for automatic braking as a standard in all new cars.

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