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Focus: how best to implement new anti-crash technologies

Here's what is going on in the heads of many national safety regulators who are regularly confronted with dire statistics regarding motor vehicle crashes and attendant fatalities across the country.

On the one hand, and for obviously good reasons, they lament the continuing high death toll that is playing out on the nation's roadways. Of special concern are the reports from broad-based sources indicating that many American motorists seem to be slipping into a near comatose state as they surrender to distracted driving behaviors while behind the wheel. Smartphones, GPS systems, laptops and other mobile tech devices are all implacable foes to focused driving for an inattentive motorist.

On the other hand, safety advocates view excitedly the great strides made in recent years that have brought about on-board technologies that have proven efficacy in reducing car accidents or otherwise minimizing their consequences.

A central question for government regulators and safety proponents centers on the optimal way to widely implement such safety tools in passenger and commercial vehicles across the country, including in Illinois.

At present, some new vehicle models feature technologies such as electronic stability control and collision warning devices as standard equipment -- and some don't. Some tech assists have standards they are required to meet uniform standards -- and some don't.

That lack of consistency and precision bothers government safety gurus, and to an extreme degree. In fact, the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that all proven anti-crash technologies be deemed as standard equipment in passenger and commercial vehicles and that uniform performance standards be established. The NTSB wants federal rulemaking to oversee the process.

That seems like sound advice that can be readily supported by any person concerned with distracted driving and the ominous statistics associated with it.

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