KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
The nation's regulators and major car companies are introducing a plan to make automatic brakes standard on nearly all U.S. vehicles. Experts believe these braking systems eventually could reduce the number of car accidents by 20 percent. NPR's Sonari Glinton reports this is another step in the path to self-driving cars.
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SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: All right, everybody, check under your seats.
GLINTON: You get automatic breaks. You get automatic breaks. Everybody gets automatic brakes.
GLINTON: Coming to the stage, Rebecca Lindland from Kelley Blue Book.
REBECCA LINDLAND: Twenty percent of crashes are driver inattention and could be prevented by this technology, so we're looking at a significant impact on crash avoidance which, first of all, is fantastic.
GLINTON: Nearly all the carmakers agreed with the government to make braking systems that keep you from hitting objects in your path, all by 2022. Automatic breaks are already in many high-end luxury vehicles, and Lindland says from a consumer perspective, it's going to take a lot of adapting.
LINDLAND: They need to understand that this is going to be something that they need to adapt to where the car is doing things outside of your control which takes some getting used to (laughter) because all of a sudden you're like, oh, my gosh, my car just stopped, and I didn't do that.
GLINTON: Meanwhile, Geoff Wardle is a transportation designer and engineer at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. He says even though the technology is robust, we're in this weird period before we get truly self-driving cars, and the carmakers have a lot of work to do to convince consumers.
GEOFF WARDLE: Because the moment that you and I start to think, well, wait a minute, I just don't like this, then it's going to push back the whole driverless car effort by a long time, I think. So we need to introduce these systems in a way that we, as human beings, have no reason to despise them.
GLINTON: The experts say every time you hear one of these stories about new features, that's a sign that self-driving cars are getting closer, and the cars we all buy will get that much more expensive. Sonari Glinton, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.