WASHINGTON — The National Transportation Safety Board on Monday called for automakers to make forward collision-avoidance systems standard equipment on new passenger vehicles to cut the number of rear-end crashes.
"You don't pay extra for your seatbelt," said NTSB Chairman Christopher A. Hart in a statement. "And you shouldn't have to pay extra for technology that can help prevent a collision altogether."
The NTSB is pushing for speedy adoption of the systems that are typically optional equipment or standard features on high-end vehicles.
It wants automakers to start with collision-warning systems and then add autonomous emergency braking once the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration completes standards for such braking systems.
The NTSB also wants NHTSA to rate the performance of collision-avoidance systems and post the results as part of a revamped five-star safety program.
However, critics contend that the decision of whether a vehicle should include such equipment belongs in the hands of car shoppers, not the federal government. Such systems could add thousands to the price of a new vehicle.
The NTSB report, "The Use of Forward Collision Avoidance Systems to Prevent and Mitigate Rear-End Crashes," notes that there is no reliable estimate of the number of passenger vehicles already deployed on U.S. roads equipped with a collision-warning system or a complete forward collision-avoidance system.
The report said just four out of 684 passenger-vehicle models in 2014 included a complete forward collision-avoidance system as a standard feature.
"When these systems are offered as options, they are often bundled with other non-safety features, making the overall package more expensive," NTSB said.
Rear-end crashes kill about 1,700 people every year and injure 500,000, according to federal safety regulators. The federal government says more than 80 percent of these deaths and injuries might have been avoided if the vehicles had been equipped with a collision-avoidance system.
Edmunds says: Few will argue about the benefits of these advanced safety systems, but the key issue is cost.