Federal regulators have been pushing to make cutting edge, crash prevention technology a standard feature instead of a premium-costing add-on.
The technology in question is a system that uses a series of sensors to alert drivers and automatically activate the brakes if their vehicle is about to crash. In most cars, it's an optional feature, and almost prohibitively expensive, resulting in most drivers passing it up.
Government officials likened the technology to standard safety features like air bags and antilock brakes. In the words of Christopher Hard, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, "You don't pay extra for your seat belt, and you shouldn't have to pay extra for technology that can help prevent a collision altogether."
This push, however, has led to tensions with automakers. Only around 40 percent of new cars even have the option of incorporating this technology, and each installation of the system can earn companies up to several thousand dollars.
According to a 2007 federal study, nearly 87 percent of rear-end crashes were caused by driver inattention, and federal regulators believe that as many as 80 percent of those crashes could have been prevented should crash-prevention systems have been more prevalent.
Manufacturers believe that consumers both want to and should decide how they spend their money when it comes to the safety of their vehicles, but given the threat rear-end collisions can pose to those in other cars, regulators and safety evangelists aren't so sure that this should be the case.
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