Posted: November 21, 2016

In 2015, the number of fatalities from motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. jumped by 7.7 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s 35,200 people who died in fatal motor vehicle accidents. Could they have been prevented?

In a 2013 study, NHTSA determined that fully one third of all motor vehicle collisions in the U.S. begin with rear-end collisions. If we could put a stop to just this one type of traffic crash, we could prevent untold thousands of injuries and deaths each year — and we might be able to do that using safety technology.

Automakers have developed impressive new safety tech, including forward-collision warning systems, some of which can not only warn the driver of an imminent collision but actually apply the brakes. Every major carmaker now has at least the collision warning version on offer.

Forward-collision warning and prevention systems are only one of several safety technologies already available across fleets. Backup cameras may be the most familiar, but there are also blind-spot monitors to assist with lane changes, and another system that helps prevent you from drifting between lanes. There is even adaptive cruise control, which senses the speed of vehicles ahead and changing your speed so you maintain a safe distance.

If every vehicle had all of these systems, it could save tens of thousands of lives every year, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. So why aren’t these systems standard equipment on every new car or truck sold in the United States?

Cost, of course. While every vehicle manufacturer offers these systems, they are typically luxury equipment you have to pay to have added. Some automakers make them standard on some models, but those are generally high-end models.

The NTSB would like to see these life-saving technologies standard on every vehicle, but automakers believe doing so wouldn’t necessarily mean the technologies would quickly spread throughout all cars on the road. Consumers are highly cost-conscious. Making this equipment standard on every new vehicle would not only drive up the cost of new vehicles but also create a financial incentive for some drivers to stay in older cars.

If you’re considering buying a new vehicle in which this equipment is available, please make it a priority to have it added. If it prevents you from having even one serious traffic accident, it will be well worth the extra cost.

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