Federal Vehicle Collisions and Aftermarket Collision Avoidance Technologies

GAO-14-408R Published: Apr 24, 2014. Publicly Released: Apr 24, 2014.
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What GAO Found

Limited data are available on federal vehicle accidents and their associated costs. Available data sources do not allow for a comprehensive measurement of either the number of accidents involving federally owned or leased vehicles or the associated costs. Data on the number of accidents involving vehicles leased from the General Services Administration (GSA), representing about 29 percent of the federal fleet, show that from fiscal years 2008 through 2012, about 23,000 vehicles were involved in accidents in which the government was at fault; costs for repaired and totaled GSA-leased vehicles to the federal government amounted to about $53.6 million. Annual costs related to vehicle damage decreased between fiscal years 2008 and 2012, though GSA’s data does not allow a determination of why because it does not include data on specific cost elements, such as parts and labor. Similarly, comprehensive data are not readily available for costs beyond those related to GSA-leased vehicles. For example, information on the type of injury or costs of injuries and fatalities is not available from GSA. Officials from selected civilian agencies that GAO contacted stated that the information necessary to determine the number and cost of accidents involving their leased and owned vehicles is either unavailable or would be time consuming to collect.

Limited information also exists on the potential of aftermarket collision avoidance technologies to reduce vehicle accidents. For example, GAO’s literature review yielded no studies of the costs and benefits of aftermarket collision avoidance technologies, and GAO was unable to verify any claims of benefits associated with the technologies. In addition, officials from GSA and the Departments of Transportation, Agriculture, the Interior, and Veterans Affairs stated that their agencies are not presently using these technologies in their vehicle fleets. GSA does not offer aftermarket collision avoidance technologies as options for purchased or leased vehicles, citing a lack of demand from its customers for such technologies.

Why GAO Did This Study

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 federal agencies. 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. These technologies, called collision avoidance technologies, 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. This report discusses what is known about (1) 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.

To address these objectives, GAO analyzed government-wide data and interviewed officials from GSA, the Department of Transportation, selected civilian agencies, and industry officials. GAO also conducted a literature review of relevant studies published over the past 10 years. The Departments of Transportation and the Interior provided comments on a draft of this report and GSA provided technical comments.

For more information, contact Lori Rectanus at 202-512-2834 or rectanusl@gao.gov.


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