NTSB: Automatic braking tech should be mandatory

The safety agency claims that more than 1,700 fatalities and a half-million injuries are associated with avoidable rear-end collisions.

The National Transportation Safety Board has issued an urgent warning calling for collision-avoidance and automatic-braking technology to be mandatory for vehicles sold in the US.

The safety agency claims that 1.7 million rear-end crashes occurred on US highways in 2012 alone, resulting in more than 1,700 fatalities and 500,000 injuries.

"Many of these crashes could have been mitigated, or possibly even prevented, had rear-end collision avoidance technologies been in place," the report claims.

The NTSB places blame squarely on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has added collision-avoidance tech to the New Car Assessment Program but as a recommended safety feature rather than an absolute requirement.

"Slow and insufficient action on the part of the (NHTSA) to develop performance standards for these technologies and require them in passenger and commercial vehicles, as well as a lack of incentives for manufacturers, has contributed to the ongoing and unacceptable frequency of rear-end crashes," the NTSB argues.

Automakers have been reluctant to voluntarily introduce the technology across their entire lineup, instead opting to offer such systems as optional upgrades. Toyota has promised to offer collision-avoidance as an independent option, rather than tying it to costly range-topping packages, with prices as low as $300, while Nissan is moving to make automatic braking a standard feature in its home market of Japan.

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