Buyers, beware of braking
The US government's auto safety agency wants to add two automatic emergency braking devices to its list of recommended safety features for new-car buyers.
However, it is unclear when - or if - the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) will require automakers to put the devices on all new vehicles.
The agency plans to add crash-imminent braking and dynamic brake support to its recommendations. Crash-imminent braking automatically stops a car if sensors detect a possible crash, while dynamic braking adds force to the brakes if the driver isn't pressing hard enough to avoid a crash.
The agency will decide later if the features will go on window stickers that show government safety ratings. A start date for the recommendations will come after public comment.
The recommendations help to encourage the auto industry to adopt additional safety features, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Thursday in announcing them to a group of automotive engineers in Washington, DC. Foxx's department includes the traffic safety agency.
Devices that use cameras and radar to track traffic and objects in front of a driver could go a long way towards cutting the number of crashes. Nearly a third of all crashes reported to police in the US in 2013 were rear-end collisions with other vehicles, according to NHTSA.
Currently, NHTSA recommends three advanced technology safety features to car buyers. They are forward collision warning (which warns a driver when a crash is possible); lane departure warning, and rear-view cameras. Rear-view cameras will be required on all light vehicles, starting in May 2018.
Still. it is not clear when other devices like automatic emergency braking may be required. Currently, such devices are found mainly on higher-priced models, and they are costly. But new NHTSA chief Mark Rosekind told reporters in Detroit last week that he wants them on all models.
"Safety should not be based on the price of your car," he said. "We need to think about [safety] across all models, how do you get that?" he said.