NEW ORLEANS - You've probably heard of cars that beep when a driver backs too close to an object or that can sense when a driver veers into another lane.
The technology was once only available in luxury vehicles, but is now an option in more budget-friendly cars, and there is a push to make it a requirement for all drivers.
Imagine if those small devices could prevent 33 percent of all fatal accidents. One federal agency says the technology already exists.
“From a highway safety perspective, I think it’s a great idea. I think it would save a lot of lives,” said John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.
The National Transportation Safety Board wants the so-called crash avoidance technology to be mandatory in all vehicles.
There are a wide variety of products on the market that are already helping drivers avoid accidents. Some have cameras that show what is behind the vehicle and even start to beep when a driver gets too close to an object
The devices can also monitor speed and steering and even allow the car to brake on its own. Studies show that feature alone can prevent nearly 900 fatal crashes each year.
But LeBlanc says a main deterrent is the cost.
“Some of the technology increases, if they were mandated, would cost $3,500 per car,” he said.
For some, it comes down to personal preference.
“I’m not going to hit anything, but that is helpful. Sometimes your mind is not always 100 percent focused on what you’re doing and that bell will wake you up,” said driver Tony Piiere.
But other drivers feel the mandate would be an imposition.
“I don’t think it’s fair. If a person knows how to drive, they know how to drive, and they don’t need devices to tell them how to go about backing up their car up one way or the other,” said driver Norbert Zenon.
“That's part of the issue,” said LeBlanc. “There is technology available right now where your car would not be able to start if you didn’t have your seatbelt on. They have legislated that out. The manufacturer can’t do it that way because there were complaints about it. People want their freedom. They want to be able to choose.”
Even without the technology, LeBlanc points out that wearing seatbelts, driving sober, and not driving aggressively can cut down on the majority of fatal accidents in the state.
For a list of vehicles that have crash avoidance technology, click here.