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Shouldn't life-saving safety tech be standard on every vehicle?

Automotive safety technology has made huge strides in the last couple of decades. We've seen forward-collision warning and avoidance systems, rear-facing cameras to prevent backup accidents, and systems that expertly parallel-park your car. Today, sensors that can read lane-markers can warn you if you're about to drift into another lane. Adaptive cruise control handles the slight speed changes necessary to maintain a safe distance from vehicles ahead.

Add the self-driving car, and all of this sounds futuristic. Surely it won't be long before traffic accidents and injuries are a thing of the past.

"We're not talking about the future. This is not flying cars," a National Transportation Safety Board spokesperson said recently. "This can be done."

If this great safety tech were installed on every car and truck on the road, human error would have much less of an impact than it does now. A moment of distraction or a night of short sleep would no longer create such a risk.

Every carmaker has technology like this available, and the NTSB is calling for it all to be made standard equipment on every new vehicle. After all, seatbelts were once optional, but using them enhanced safety so much that it became obvious they should be standard.

Since the NTSB has no regulatory authority, however, it cannot force automakers to make today's safety tech standard. Lawmakers or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would have to take that step -- and that could take some time. The NHTSA recently announced it has reached an agreement with carmakers to make one item standard by 2022: automatic braking systems.

Meanwhile, these important safety systems are only being installed on luxury vehicles and in optional packages. If our goal is to reduce motor vehicle accidents, do you think they should be standard?

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