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NTSB recommends intelligent speed assistance on all new vehicles

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Legal | Technology
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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)’s investigation of a multi-vehicle collision in North Las Vegas, Nevada last year has prompted the board to recommend intelligent speed assistance (ISA) technology be required in all new vehicles.

The Jan. 29, 2022 crash resulted in nine fatalities. Excessive speed and drug-impaired driving were determined to be factors that led to the crash.

During its investigation, the NTSB found that a 2018 Dodge Challenger entered an intersection against a red traffic signal with a vehicle-recorded speed of 103 mph, causing a collision with five other vehicles. Seven occupants of a minivan and the Challenger’s occupants died. The driver of the Challenger was impaired by cocaine and PCP at the time of the collision and had a history of multiple speeding offenses, according to the NTSB.

The board issued the recommendations Nov. 14, 2023 at a public board meeting and said Nevada’s failure to deter the driver’s speeding recidivism despite numerous speeding citations played a part in the crash as well.

“This crash is the latest in a long line of tragedies we’ve investigated where speeding and impairment led to catastrophe but it doesn’t have to be this way,” said NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy. “We know the key to saving lives is redundancy, which can protect all of us from human error that occurs on our roads. What we lack is the collective will to act on NTSB safety recommendations.”

ISA uses a vehicle’s GPS location to inform the driver of the current speed limit, pulled from its database of posted speed limits and onboard cameras. Passive ISA systems warn a driver when their vehicle exceeds the speed limit through visual, sound, or haptic alerts. Active systems include mechanisms that make it more difficult, but not impossible, to increase the speed of a vehicle above the posted speed limit. Systems that electronically limit the speed of a vehicle to fully prevent drivers from exceeding the speed limit are also classified as active ISA systems.

NTSB hopes to eliminate speeding through the implementation of a comprehensive strategy. “Speed-limiters on large trucks, automated enforcement, expert speed analysis tools, and education campaigns are underused in our communities,” NTSB says on its website. “These critical tools and strategies must be implemented to address this safety problem.”

In 2021, speeding-related crashes resulted in 12,330 fatalities, which was nearly one-third of all traffic fatalities in the U.S., according to the NTSB.

NTSB has previously called on regulators to revise regulations around speed limit guidance and increase the use of speed safety cameras. The board has also emphasized the need to improve data collection, laws, and enforcement to address drug-impaired driving.

The board’s recent recommendation of ISA was to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and 17 auto manufacturers, requesting that, at minimum, drivers be warned when they’re speeding. The automakers listed are: BMW Group, Ferrari USA, Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., American Honda Motor Co., Hyundai USA, Kia Motors Corp., Mazda USA, Mercedes-Benz USA, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan USA, Porsche Cars North America, Stellantis, Subaru of America, Toyota Motor North America, Volkswagen Group, and Volvo Car Corp.

Five other recommendations were made by NTSB to NHTSA:

    • Educate the public about the benefits of ISA;
    • Update guidelines for state highway safety programs to include identification and tracking of repeat speeding offenders;
    • Develop countermeasures to reduce repeat speeding offenses;
    • Conduct research and develop guidelines to assist states in implementing ISA interlock programs for repeat speeding offenders; and
    • Incentivize the adoption of ISA through, for example, the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), which is a reiteration of a 2017 recommendation.

At the state level, NTSB recommends the implementation of programs to identify repeat speeding offenders and measurably reduce speeding recidivism.

NTSB also asked the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) to “evaluate the safety outcomes of marketing by auto manufacturers that emphasizes risky behavior, including speeding. The evaluation should compare vehicles based on engine size, power, performance, and international approaches to marketing,” all compiled in a public report.

The executive summary, probable cause, findings, and safety recommendations of the investigation are available online. A final report will be published on the NTSB’s website in the coming weeks. The public docket for the investigation includes about 500 pages of information including reports, interview transcripts, and other investigative materials.

NTSB also shared last week that it had pulled the electronic control modules from five vehicles involved in a deadly Ohio crash Nov. 14 on Interstate 70 West in Licking County. Six people were killed.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol said the chain-reaction crash occurred within the backup of a crash from about an hour earlier and further west on I-70 in Franklin County.

Homendy said the order of the five vehicles involved in the crash was a tractor-trailer, a red SUV, a charter bus with 54 Tuscarawas Valley students, teachers, and chaperones aboard, an SUV carrying three other chaperones accompanying the bus, and a tractor-trailer, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

A preliminary report of that investigation is expected in two weeks. A full investigation and report could take 18 months.


A 3D laser scan shows damages to the minivan involved in a 2022 Las Vegas crash. All seven passengers inside were killed. The view is from the passenger side. (Credit: NTSB)

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