Florida residents may be aware that several auto makers have developed automatic braking systems that experts believe could drastically reduce the number of accidents on the nation's roads. NHTSA reported in September 2015 that a deal in principle had been struck with 10 car makers to introduce the technology, and the safety agency announced on March 17 that it would work with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and 20 auto manufacturers to install automatic braking systems on the vast majority of cars, pickup trucks, minivans and SUVs sold in the United States by 2022.
Automatic braking systems use data provided by onboard sensors and radar to monitor road conditions, and they apply the vehicle's brakes in emergency situations to avoid a crash. Safety experts believe that the systems could save countless lives and prevent about a million car crashes each year. Automatic braking is particularly effective at preventing rear-end collisions, which killed over 1,700 Americans and left a further 547,000 injured in 2012.
The car manufacturers that have pledged to introduce automatic braking systems by 2022 produce virtually all of the passenger vehicles sold in the U.S. each year. They include Ford, Toyota, Honda, General Motors, Volkswagen and Fiat Chrysler. Prior to the March announcement, the NHTSA had urged Congress to introduce regulations that would make electronic accident prevention systems mandatory equipment, but a representative of the safety agency said that a voluntary agreement with car makers could actually work out better for American consumers.
Electronic braking systems and autonomous vehicle technology promise a future in which accidents are a rare event rather than a daily occurrence. However, the inevitable consequences of human nature will likely keep personal injury attorneys around the country busy for the foreseeable future. The kinds of accidents that electronic braking systems are adept at preventing often involve distracted, fatigued or impaired drivers, and these reckless motorists may face lawsuits brought on behalf of accident victims when their negligent actions cause harm.
Source: The Los Angeles Times, "Automakers agree to make automatic braking a standard feature by 2022", James F. Peltz, March 17, 2016