The National Transportation Safety Board says all cars, not just fancy ones, should come equipped with technology that warns of accidents ahead.
The National Transportation Safety Board says all cars, not just fancy ones, should come equipped with technology that warns of accidents ahead. - 
Listen To The Story

Federal accident investigators want to bring robotics to the next new car you buy. The National Transportation Safety Board says all cars, not just fancy ones, should come equipped with technology that warns of accidents ahead, slows you down if the car in front of you hits the breaks or helps you stay in your lane when you start weaving.

"We are starting to see some of it in the cars that are not luxury cars, like I understand Chevrolet Impala has some form or fashion of lane departure warning systems" says Robert Sumwalt, who is a member of the NTSB. "We don't feel that just the luxury cars should have them. In order to achieve the maximum benefit, all new cars should have this technology."

The NTSB is a loud voice in a bully pulpit, but its annual Most Wanted safety list has no authority to force manufacturers to offer adaptive cruise control or forward collision warning systems. Sumwalt says the technology could reduce the 60 percent of all accidents that involve running off the road, changing lanes or are rear-enders.

"This is sort of the precursor to having fully automated cars. All these technologies will come into play in the day when people can sit in the back of the car and social network and shop, which of course is the whole point of the exercise," says Jamie Kitman, who writes on cars for Automobile Magazine and GQ Magazine. He says car companies aren't fighting this technology the way they used to fight airbags. "I think they are pretty on board with the driver-less car era. Bring it on. If nothing else, everybody will need to get a new car when everybody else isn't driving their own car."

But investments in safety don't all have to be at the sharp edge of tech. Kitman argues you could save a lot of lives by overhauling driver's ed standards in America that are not nearly as strict as in parts of Europe.

A big digital music service is taking a step toward becoming ubiquitous. Spotify, the advertising-supported music sharing and listening company, typically requires listeners to download a piece of software. But that started to change this week. The company is offering an in-browser streaming service, currently in beta, that could be offered to everyone next year

"Spotify is now testing, for a small audience, a web-based version of its service. I think you'll probably see it rolled out system-wide sometime next year," says Dan Ackerman, senior editor at CNET and, we should note, a musician--a funk bassist, believe it or not. He releases his albums on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.

Ackerman says the service, already used by millions, should get a boost once all it takes is an internet browser. "You're at work or you're traveling and you're not allowed to -- for whatever reason -- download an executable file. This will probably make Spotify easier for people to use, or maybe you're resticted in what you can download."

Ackerman prefers some of the smaller streaming music options, like Rdio that already uses browsers. He says Spotify's move shows it's willing to take ideas from competitors. Despite its success, Spotify -- which is based in Sweden -- has work to do.

A study this year found most teenagers kick out the jams on a service better known for fail videos: They tend to get their songs in the form of clips on YouTube.

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.

Follow David Brancaccio at @DavidBrancaccio