Consumer Reports, joining newly launched automotive safety initiatives in the U.S., is campaigning for an automatic crash notification feature to be in every new passenger vehicle — and kept active free to customers.
More than 20,000 consumers signed the organization's safety petition in its first three days.
A standard automatic crash notification feature would save lives, Consumer Reports said.
The organization on Wednesday expanded the petition's reach through social media. The petition is directed at brands that do not offer free automatic crash notification plans in all models: General Motors, Stellantis, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota and Tesla.
Automatic crash notification technology calls first responders in an emergency and gives the precise location of a vehicle, even if drivers are unable to call.
Many automakers require a subscription fee to keep automatic crash notifications active and will disable the safety alert if fees are not paid, Consumer Reports said.
The organization said 14 brands offer the feature free on some vehicles. Seven offer free trial periods of at least five years for automatic crash notification. Tesla and Fiat do not offer the safety feature in the U.S.
William Wallace, associate director of safety policy for Consumer Reports, said automatic crash notifications should not be an optional feature in the automotive market.
"Safety isn't optional," said Wallace. "That's what we're saying about automatic crash notification, and why it ought to be standard on every vehicle, like it is in other parts of the world."
The Consumer Reports campaign follows other calls for more automotive safety technologies to become standard and free for consumers.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently proposed a rule requiring automatic emergency braking for all new vehicles. The safety group Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety subsequently urged the NHTSA to include bicycle detection in rule-making for automatic emergency braking.
According to a 2019 NHTSA study, more than 700 lives could be saved each year if all new vehicles had automatic crash notification features. Said Wallace: "Let's seize this opportunity to improve safety as cars are evolving."