Fatal Crash Prompts NTSB to Demand Speed Assistance Features in Vehicles

Nov. 20, 2023
The National Transportation Safety Board is pushing for cars to be equipped with technology that can limit their speed based on the road's speed limit.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), a U.S. government agency, is pushing for cars to come equipped with technology that can limit the speed of the vehicle, Tech Crunch reports.

The NTSB does not have the authority to mandate such a change, but has urged the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to do so following a tragic accident that took place in January 2022. 

A 2018 Dodge Challenger in Las Vegas ran a stop sign before speeding up to 103 miles an hour. It raced past a red light, through an intersection, and fatally struck the right side of a Toyota Sienna minivan, causing four other vehicles to crash. The wreck resulted in the deaths of all seven occupants of the minivan, as well as the passenger and driver of the Dodge. The Dodge driver was found to have cocaine and PCP in his system and had a history of speeding offenses.

Following NTSB’s investigation into the accident, it believes that intelligent speed-assist technology (ISA) would prevent further tragedies like this one, and has called on NHTSA to follow suit. An NHTSA spokesperson has responded that NTSB’s input is welcomed by the agency, which will be carefully reviewing their recommendations.

ISA utilizes a car’s GPS and onboard camera to determine what the local speed limit is. While passive systems will warn a driver that they are speeding through sounds, visuals, and haptic alerts, an active system may make it harder to increase a vehicle’s speed, or completely limit it altogether. 

Europe has already mandated ISA technology for all new vehicles as of 2022. The European Commission’s Vehicle General Safety Regulation (GSR) requires the systems to maintain 90% accuracy to be considered safe.

Alongside NHTSA, NTSB has urged 17 automakers, including BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, and VW, to employ speed-assistance features in their vehicles.

“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,” NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said. “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.”