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Should collision-avoidance systems become standard issue? Part I

Some of the vehicle safety features that we now take for granted have not been around all that long. It is difficult to imagine driving a car without seat belts or air bags. But after each was invented, there was a period of time in which they were optional "luxury" items that customers had to pay more money for.

Such is the power of government regulation. Today, there is no question that new vehicles must come with seat belts and at least a minimum number of air bags. These safety features are simply too valuable to be considered optional add-ons. Should regulators be making similar decisions about other types of auto safety technology?

One of the most respected-yet-ignored government agencies is the National Transportation Safety Board. The job of the NTSB is two-fold. First, it is tasked with investigating civil transportation accidents. These include truck accidents, certain types of crashes on the highway, certain aviation accidents, railroad crashes and even incidents involving underground pipelines.

The agency's second responsibility is to offer safety recommendations to regulators and lawmakers based on what it learns during accident investigations. The NTSB's only agenda is advancing transportation safety, yet it has no regulatory authority of its own. And because it makes recommendations to politicians who tend to have many conflicting agendas, the NTSB's advice is too often ignored.

Earlier this month, the National Transportation Safety Board reiterated a recommendation it has made approximately 12 times over the past 20 years. The NTSB noted that collision-avoidance systems should become standard equipment on all newly manufactured personal and commercial vehicles.

Please check back next week as we continue this discussion.

Source: USA Today, "NTSB calls for collision avoidance systems on all cars," Todd Spangler, June 9, 2015

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