Limited Data Available on Aftermarket Collision Avoidance Technologies, U.S. Government Accountability Office Reports

Apr 30, 2014


The existence of data on collisions involving U.S. federal government vehicles was the subject of a U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) report published on April 24, 2014 that evaluated the costs of these accidents and the potential of aftermarket collision avoidance technologies to help reduce them.

To view the report, click here.

The federal government can be liable for vehicular damages and the costs of injuries resulting from accidents involving vehicles that are owned or leased by its various agencies–a fleet currently tallied at 650,000 and valued at $4.4 billion.

Recently, new technologies have become available that use sensors, such as cameras and radar, to observe a vehicle’s surroundings and issue warnings to drivers when certain types of collisions may be imminent.  Known as “collision avoidance technologies,” these new tools may help reduce the frequency of accidents, as well as the costs of accidents that do occur.

While such technologies have increasingly become available as factory-installed options on vehicles, aftermarket collision avoidance technologies have also become available.  They may offer similar benefits but cost less than factory-installed options.  The report discusses (1) what is known about the extent to which federal vehicles were reported to have been involved in accidents from fiscal years 2008 through 2012 and the cost of those accidents to the government; and (2) the potential of aftermarket collision avoidance technologies to help reduce vehicle accidents.

However, limited data is available on federal vehicle accidents and their associated costs.  In preparing the report, limited data sources did not allow for a comprehensive measurement of either the number of accidents involving federally owned or leased vehicles, or the associated costs.  Depending upon whether the government or a third party is at fault, the claims process differs for accidents involving owned or leased vehicles.

Limited information also exists on the potential of aftermarket collision avoidance technologies to reduce vehicle accidents.  For example, a review by the GAO of literature on the subject yielded no studies of the costs and benefits of aftermarket collision avoidance technologies, and the GAO was unable to verify any claims of benefits associated with the technologies.  Nine key studies were identified as being sufficiently reliable to describe the potential of technologies to reduce vehicle accidents.

It was also confirmed that other federal agencies are not presently using these technologies in their vehicle fleets.  A lack of demand was cited as the reason.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, while information on aftermarket systems is indeed limited, “data do exist on the effectiveness of collision avoidance technologies that are factory-installed.”

Currently, a number of factory-installed systems are available on higher-priced vehicles, but markets are emerging in other vehicle classes.


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