Will collision avoidance systems actually make new cars safer?

Though the NTSB is strongly encouraging their use, there is still some debate about whether crash avoidance systems will in fact prevent accidents.

Car accidents are a leading cause of injury and death across Missouri and around the country. According to data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were roughly 2.3 million injuries and nearly 33,000 fatalities attributed to traffic accidents in 2013 alone (the most recent year for which such comprehensive data is available). Given that there are about 10 million reported car crashes each year, accident prevention is a laudable goal.

The latest effort to slow the rate of motor vehicle collisions on America's roadways involves "collision avoidance systems" or "crash avoidance systems." In May of 2015, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a 60-page report detailing how these systems could dramatically decrease the number of accidents. The NTSB has now recommended that such systems become standard equipment in all newly manufactured vehicles.

The NTSB's report is certainly persuasive, particularly where rear-end accidents are concerned. The study indicates that as many as 80 percent of the estimated 1.7 million rear-end crashes from 2012 could have been avoided had collision avoidance systems been in use. According to the NTSB, this could have prevented the more than 1,700 fatalities and 500,000 injuries that resulted from those accidents.

Benefits of different types of forward collision avoidance systems

There are various types of crash avoidance systems currently available to car manufacturers, each of which can offer slightly different results in terms of the types of accidents which might be prevented. For example, some systems will alert a driver if his or her vehicle has drifted out of the lane without signaling, something that often happens if the driver's full attention isn't focused on the road ahead. Other systems can actually engage the brakes if radar or camera input indicates that the vehicle is approached an obstacle too quickly. There are also systems that use electronic stability control to offer adaptive traction on wet, slick or snowy road surfaces to provide a better braking experience.

Clearly, all of these could offer benefits if they function as intended. Being able to correct an accidental lane drift can stave off a "side-swipe" accident, and having the vehicle automatically apply the brakes could prevent a rear-end crash if the driver is distracted or undergoing a medical emergency.

Possible cons of crash avoidance methods

The first potential issue to having collision avoidance systems as standard equipment is cost. These systems are still relatively new, and the technology they rely upon - which can include radar sensors, multiple vehicle-mounted cameras, adaptive braking mechanisms, as well as tactile and visual alerts for the driver - could be expensive to produce and maintain. The inclusion of these on new vehicles might make them cost-prohibitive for manufacturers, particularly for those who don't specialize in luxury or high-end vehicles.

Some commentators have pointed out another possible issue with relying upon crash-avoidance systems: a fear that removing personal accountability from the equation will result in a generation of inattentive, irresponsible drivers who are incapable of safe vehicle operation unless integrated technology picks up their proverbial slack.

Regardless of what side of the collision avoidance system debate you may fall upon, only time will tell if they will become standard equipment in new automobiles. For now, the issue of crash avoidance falls on drivers themselves. If you or someone you love has been injured in an auto accident caused by another person, business, municipality or third party, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries. To learn more about your legal rights, contact the skilled personal injury attorneys at the Columbia, Missouri, office of The Copeland Law Firm. Call them locally at 573-397-5277 or toll-free at 573-397-5277.