Col­li­sion avoid­ance ‘should be stan­dard’

Lesotho Times - - Motoring -

WASHINGTON DC — Au­tomak­ers should im­me­di­ately in­clude, as stan­dard equip­ment in all new cars and com­mer­cial trucks, sys­tems that au­to­mat­i­cally brake or warn driv­ers to avoid a rear-end col­li­sion.

That’s the con­tent of a just-re­leased US Na­tional Trans­porta­tion Safety Board re­port.

Such sys­tems could pre­vent or make less se­vere more than 80 per­cent of US rear-end col­li­sions that cause about 1700 deaths and a half-mil­lion in­juries each year, the re­port said.

There are about 1.7-mil­lion rear-en­ders each year in the US.

Only Merc, Subaru Some col­li­sion-avoid­ance sys­tems warn the driv­ers that a col­li­sion is im­mi­nent but don’t brake­brake.

The board rec­om­mended that warn­ing sys­tems be made stan­dard then add auto brak­ing af­ter the Na­tional High­way Traf­fic Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion com­pleted stan­dards for them.

The board said it had rec­om­mended the adop­tion of col­li­sion-avoid­ance or other steps to en­cour­age their use a dozen times through the past 20 years but the re­port called progress “very lim­ited.”

Only four of 684 pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cle mod­els in 2014 in­cluded au­to­matic brak­ing sys­tems as stan­dard: the Mercedes-benz G Class 4x4, an SUV; the Subaru Forester and Out­back, also SUV’S, and the Subaru Legacy, a mid­sized sedan.

When the sys­tems are of­fered as op­tions (in the US) they are typ­i­cally on high-end ve­hi­cles such as Cadil­lac, In­finiti and Lexus and are of­ten bun­dled with non-safety fea­tures such as heat­able seats or faux leather in­te­ri­ors, mak­ing the over­all pack­age more ex­pen­sive.

NTSB chair­man Christo­pher Hart said: “You don’t pay ex­tra for your seat belt and you shouldn’t have to pay ex­tra for tech­nol­ogy that can help pre­vent a col­li­sion.”

The US Al­liance of Au­to­mo­bile Man­u­fac­tur­ers said col­li­sion avoid­ance sys­tems should re­main op­tional. Vice-pres­i­dent Glo­ria Bergquist said: “There are al­most two dozen driver as­sist sys­tems on sale now.

Some buy­ers might pre­fer a 360-de­gree cam­era view or au­to­matic park­ing. Au­tomak­ers see au­to­matic brak­ing as help­ful to buy­ers, but buy­ers should de­cide what they want and need.”

Safety rat­ing sys­tems The board also rec­om­mended that fed­eral reg­u­la­tors de­velop tests and stan­dards to rate the per­for­mance of each ve­hi­cle’s col­li­sion­avoid­ance sys­tem and to in­cor­po­rate those re­sults into an ex­panded gov­ern­ment safety rat­ing sys­tem.

“Slow and in­suf­fi­cient ac­tion on the part of the (high­way traf­fic ad­min­is­tra­tion) 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 re­port said.

A com­plete col­li­sion avoid­ance sys­tem works by mon­i­tor­ing the road around the ve­hi­cle ei­ther with light de­tec­tion, radar, cam­eras or a fu­sion of sev­eral tech­nolo­gies.

When it de­tects a con­flict, it be­gins by alert­ing the driver through vis­ual or au­di­ble warn­ing cues and pre­par­ing the brakes in an­tic­i­pa­tion of brak­ing. If the con­flict per­sists, the sys­tems ap­ply the brakes or adds ad­di­tional brake pres­sure if the driver has al­ready be­gun brak­ing, but not hard enough.

But is it safe? The ef­fec­tive­ness of the sys­tems de­pends heav­ily on the ac­cu­racy and time­li­ness of de­tec­tion of the con­flict, which can fluc­tu­ate depend­ing on the qual­ity of the in­stalled sen­sors, cam­eras and tar­get de­tec­tion al­go­rithms used.

The traf­fic safety ad­min­is­tra­tion is in­ves­ti­gat­ing com­plaints that the au­ton­o­mous brak- ing sys­tems on newer Jeep Grand Chero­kees can come on for no rea­son, in­creas­ing the risk of rear-end crashes.

The traf­fic safety ad­min­is­tra­tion sets safety stan­dards for cars and trucks and or­ders re­calls for de­fec­tive ve­hi­cles, while the safety board in­ves­ti­gates crashes and makes safety rec­om­men­da­tions. — AP

A US safety board wants all cars to have stan­dard col­li­sion warn­ing sys­tems such as Toy­ota’s Safety Sense tech­nol­ogy.

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