Agency wants safety system mandate

The National Transportation Safety Board is calling for collision avoidance systems to be installed on commercial vehicles, though there is no immediate move by the U.S. Department of Transportation to act on the recommendation.

Citing statistics that show commercial vehicles were involved in 40 percent of fatal rear-end crashes in 1999, the NTSB recommended new rules to the government and suggested the industry work toward the same end.

Former NTSB Chairman Hall strongly endorsed collision warning devices, but recent truck regulation has focused more on hours of service than on mandating new safety equipment.

NTSB members also singled out adaptive cruise control, a system that automatically maintains a safe distance from the front of the truck to the rear of the vehicle in front of it.

Collision warning systems tell the driver when the truck gets too close to another vehicle that is beside, behind or in front of the truck. Some large fleets use both systems.

The NTSB, known mainly for investigating airline crashes, cannot make regulations. The agency recommended that the U.S. DOT:

  • Complete rulemaking on adaptive cruise control and collision warning system performance standards for new commercial vehicles and passenger cars.
  • Require all new commercial vehicles to be equipped with such systems.