The government says this currently limited car-safety feature should be the norm

With crash assistance technology, rear end crashes could be more easily avoided.
With crash assistance technology, rear end crashes could be more easily avoided. –iStock

What if your car could automatically stop you from hitting the car in front of you?

If the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has it its way, that will be the norm.

In a new report, the NTSB investigated collision avoidance technologies and came to the conclusion that cars with collision warning systems (especially ones that have active braking, or technology that can brake on its own or autonomously applying additional brake pressure) could help reduce rear end crashes.

In 2012, according to the NTSB, there were 1.7 million rear-end crashes on highways in the United States, leading to 1,700 deaths and 500,000 injured people.

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The NTSB thinks federal regulators and auto manufacturers are not putting in the necessary effort to create standards for prevention technologies in cars.

The NTSB notes that only four models of passenger cars have a collision avoidance system as a standard feature, though many more offer the technology as an option.

“You don’t pay extra for your seatbelt,’’ said NTSB Chairman Christopher A. Hart in a statement. “And you shouldn’t have to pay extra for technology that can help prevent a collision altogether.’’

These technologies are currently available and not a wild idea of the future – they just need to be put in vehicles.

The goal of a Collision Avoidance system, according to the NTSB, is, “to prevent crashes by detecting a conflict and alerting the driver, and, in many systems, also aiding in brake application or automatically applying brakes.’’

In the report, the NTSB recommends “performance standards and protocols’’ to assess collision technologies in commercial vehicles, along with other ways to start implementing this tech.

Although the NTSB is making numerous recommendations there is no guarantee actual changes will be made. As The Verge points out, it has made similar recommendations over the past 20 years. It’s up to another federal agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to act on those recommendations.

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Pressure from other safety organizations, who are already taking this technology into account, might help. To qualify for an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick+ (its highest award), a vehicle must earn an “advanced’’ or “superior’’ rating on a front crash prevention technology.

Here are the cars that won the Top Safety Pick+ for 2015. (Note that the award only applies to versions of the car that include the optional crash prevention system.)

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