Recent advancements in auto safety technology have the remarkable distinction of shifting the focus from ensuring that vehicle occupants walk away from a crash to preventing the crash from occurring in the first place. Indeed, things like lane departure warning systems, backup cameras and, of course, emergency automatic braking have already proven worth their weight in gold.
The only problem, however, is that many of these new safety features are currently optional on most new vehicles and can sometimes cost the functional equivalent of the their weight in gold.
The driving public received some good news on this front earlier this week, however, when it was announced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that one of the most effective of these new auto safety features will become standard equipment sooner than later.
What happened exactly?
The NHTSA, together with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, negotiated a deal with 20 automakers -- including Ford, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Subaru and BMW -- to make emergency auto braking a standard feature on all cars and trucks by 2022.
What exactly does emergency auto braking do?
Emergency auto braking relies on a complex system of lasers, radar and cameras to measure the speed and distance of surrounding vehicles.
If the system detects that a vehicle immediately ahead has come to a sudden stop and a rear-end crash is imminent, it issues an audible warning to the driver. If the driver fails to respond, the system will automatically apply the brakes -- either avoiding the accident or reducing the impact.
Will this make that much of a difference?
Safety experts indicate that the impact of emergency auto braking as a standard feature will be significant, saving thousands of lives, preventing thousands of accidents and driving down insurance premiums.
Consider that the 20 automakers originally wanted to make the feature standard by 2025, and that the IIHS predicts that convincing them to move the date ahead by just three years will mean 28,000 fewer collisions and 12,000 fewer personal injuries.
Here's hoping we do see a real difference on the road.
In the meantime, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you've been seriously injured or lost a loved one in an accident caused by the negligence of another motorist.