By Drew Johnson
Thursday, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 3:49 pm
 

The National Transportation Safety Board is pushing for the United States government to require more standard safety equipment in new cars. The NTSB says its latest proposal could help save thousands of lives.

The NTSB recommended to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Thursday that advanced safety technologies like adaptive cruise control, frontal collision warning, lane departure warning and automatic braking should be mandated for all new vehicles. The NTSB says that those technologies, which aim to help avoid a crash in the first place, could save thousands of American lives.

Automakers agree that collision-avoidance technologies improve overall vehicle safety, but oppose the NTSB's recommendation due to the associated costs. Adding such systems could tack on as much as $3,500 to a vehicle's sticker price.

"We are urging consumers to check them out, but the choice to purchase one or more belongs to consumers," Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, told The Detroit News. "In this still-fragile economy, maintaining affordability of new vehicles remains a concern. Every new technology could be a new mandate, and every mandate is a new cost to consumers."

The NTSB acknowledges that it doesn't take costs into consideration when making recommendations.

"We don't get into the cost-benefit analysis," NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt said. "We just say, 'Here's an accident and here's what can prevent it.'"

The NTSB doesn't have the power to mandate any requirements on its own. Only the Transportation Department, through the NHTSA, can put safety laws into effect.

Although it doesn't appear as though collision-avoidance technologies will be made standard equipment any time soon - the earliest the NHTSA could require such technologies would be for the 2017 model year - they can be had on a number of mainstream models, including the Chevrolet Equinox and Ford Fusion.