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In 2012 alone, more than 1.7 million rear-end crashes occurred on our nation’s highways, resulting in more than 1,700 fatalities and 500,000 injured people. Many of these crashes could have been mitigated, or possibly even prevented, had rear-end collision avoidance technologies been in place. However, slow and insufficient action on the part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to develop performance standards for these technologies and require them in passenger and commercial vehicles, as well as a lack of incentives for manufacturers, has contributed to the ongoing and unacceptable frequency of rear-end crashes. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has an extensive history of investigating rear-end crashes and has encouraged technological countermeasures since 1995. To date, the NTSB has issued 12 recommendations pertaining to this safety issue. In 2001, the NTSB released a Special Investigation Report on rear-end crashes that focused on technology as a potential countermeasure and made several recommendations to federal agencies and vehicle manufacturers (NTSB 2001). Due to a lack of progress in the implementation of NTSB recommendations intended to mitigate or prevent rear-end crashes, the recent technological advancements in collision avoidance technologies, and the continued prevalence of rear-end crashes, the NTSB is revisiting the topic of rear-end crash prevention.
TO THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION: Develop and apply testing protocols to assess the performance of forward collision avoidance systems in passenger vehicles at various velocities, including high speed and high velocity-differential.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Open - Unacceptable Response
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
NHTSA (Open - Unacceptable Response)
Safety Recommendation History
As we noted in our June 7, 2016, letter, it is not clear how this research, as explained in both your December 18, 2015, and March 21, 2016, letters, will lead to the recommended performance standards and testing protocols for CAS in commercial and passenger vehicles. Please send us a proposed timetable of actions for your implementation of these recommendations. Pending our receipt of that information, Safety Recommendations H-15-4 and -5 remain classified OPEN--UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
We note that you continue to research forward collision avoidance systems and supporting technologies; however, we are concerned that your efforts as described will not fully address the intent of these recommendations. It is not clear to us how this research, as explained in both your December 18, 2015, and March 21, 2016, letters, will lead to the recommended performance standards and testing protocols for CAS in commercial and passenger vehicles. We would appreciate receiving a proposed timetable of actions for your implementation of these recommendations, as required by Title 49 United States Code Section 1135 (http://www.ntsb.gov/legal/Pages/ntsb_statute.aspx#1135). Accordingly, pending completion of the recommended actions, Safety Recommendations H-15-4 and -5 are classified OPEN—UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
-From Mark R. Rosekind, Ph.D., Administrator: With regard to Safety Recommendations H-15-4 and H-15-5, we request that these recommendations be classified as "Open-Acceptable Response." NHTSA is currently researching forward collision avoidance systems as part of its in-vehicle crash avoidance program. This progran1 encompasses projects that focus on vehicle-based equipment, systems, and technologies-such as forward collision avoidance systems-that help ensure that motor vehicles are optimally prepared to prevent crashes from occurring. These technologies involve on-board equipment, such as sensors or cameras, that do not require communication between vehicles. With regard to Safety Recommendations H -15-6 and H -15-7, we request that these safety recommendations be classified "Open-Acceptable Response." On December 16, 2015, NHTSA published planned enhancements to our New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) that would assess safety ratings for vehicles that incorporate advanced technologies, including forward collision avoidance technologies, and discussed addressing changes to the Monroney label. We believe that these new safety ratings, when adopted, will fully address Safety Recommendations H-15-6 and H-15-7.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has reviewed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) request for comments (RFC), “New Car Assessment Program,” published at 80 Federal Register 241 on December 16, 2015. NHTSA proposes to expand the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) to include 5-star safety ratings for crashworthiness, crash avoidance technologies, and pedestrian protection systems. NHTSA believes that the proposed enhancements to NCAP will keep pace with technological advancements and provide consumers with thorough evaluation criteria for current safety technologies. The NTSB appreciates the merits of the intended changes to NCAP and supports NHTSA in this endeavor. The NTSB recognizes the importance of NCAP, both as a means of informing consumers and as a tool for providing incentives to vehicles manufacturers to produce safer vehicles. We applaud NHTSA’s efforts and, based on our experience in conducting crash investigations and tracking safety technologies, offer the following comments organized under five main topics: Crash Avoidance Technologies, Frontal Crashworthiness, Side Crashworthiness, Pedestrian Protection, and the Rating System. The NTSB first made a safety recommendation to NHTSA pertaining to collision warning systems in 1995, asking the agency to determine the potential of such systems to prevent crashes. Since then, NHTSA has conducted considerable research, as have researchers in industry and academia, demonstrating the significant safety benefits provided by this technology. As a result of such research, in 2001, the NTSB recommended that NHTSA develop performance standards for collision warning systems in passenger vehicles (Safety Recommendation H-01-8). The NTSB has classified this recommendation “Closed—Acceptable Alternate Action.” In May 2015, the NTSB recommended that NHTSA expand the testing protocols for collision warning systems to include high-speed and high-velocity-differential scenarios (Safety Recommendation H-15-4). Many of the rear-end crashes that the NTSB has investigated have involved vehicles traveling at highway velocity encountering and crashing into stopped traffic. Although one of the current NCAP testing procedures for forward collision warning systems approximates such a scenario (that is, a test vehicle traveling at 45 mph encounters a stopped vehicle), the available energy of a vehicle traveling at 65 mph is twice that of the same vehicle traveling at 45 mph, and the stopping distance is almost double. We urge NHTSA to consider expanding the testing protocols for forward collision warning systems to include highway velocity scenarios, representing conditions in which many fatalities occur.
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