NHTSA Mulling Automatic Braking Mandate

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wants your car to slow or stop itself. The agency is reportedly considering a push to make automatic braking, the active safety tech now found on some Infinitis and Volvos, standard on all new cars.

The news comes from NHTSA administrator David Strickland, who made the statement during a congressional hearing on crash-prevention and automotive safety, Automotive News reports. Currently automatic braking is an optional extra on vehicles including the Volvo S60 and XC60, Infiniti JX, and 2014 Subaru Forester. The system works by using radar and/or cameras to determine whether the vehicle is going to collide with an oncoming vehicle or object, and then slows the car to minimize the impact of an accident or avoid one altogether.

Aside from improving safety, the systems have the added benefit of reducing insurance claims, which might be just as much a reason to consider automatic braking as passenger safety. Last year, the NHTSA released a report suggesting that modern design improvements saved more than one million injuries in 2008 alone, and automatic braking could help continue that trend. For example, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently reported insurance claims for Volvo S60s equipped with City Safety, Volvo's active safety suite, are being filed about 16 percent less than other vehicles in its class. Though the systems have potential, making them mandatory could push the base prices of certain non-luxury-branded cars out of reach for some consumers.

Strickland told reporters after the congressional hearing that the NHTSA could end up making its decision on automatic braking by the end of the year. In other NHTSA news, the administration has just confirmed David Friedman, an engineer and fuel economy advocate, as its new deputy administrator.

Should the NHTSA make automatic braking mandatory on all new cars? Why or why not? Sound off below.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

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