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Thursday, September 28, 2023

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Automatic Emergency Braking Requirement for New Vehicles

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed a new requirement for new passenger cars and light trucks to include automatic emergency braking.

If you remember, back in April, the White House announced that they will be reviewing the proposal from NHTSA to require automatic emergency braking systems in heavy duty trucks. 

NHTSA announced on Wednesday that the agency will take the next steps in regulating electronic systems that take on certain tasks that drivers themselves have normally done. 

The agency has also expressed some reservations to impose such regulations, saying the technology will change during the time it takes to enact new rules.

Ann Carlson, the safety agency’s chief counsel, says 90% of new passenger vehicles already include the braking technology under a voluntary program that automakers have approved. But she says NHTSA wants to make the braking systems more effective at higher speeds and better at avoiding pedestrians, especially at night.

“With this proposal, we could change a high-speed crash from a deadly one to a lower-speed crash with minor injuries or just property damage,” Carlson said.

An example of this regulation in effect is the system allows vehicles to fully avoid other vehicles at up to 50 miles per hour if a driver should fail to react. If a driver brakes some but not enough to stop a collision, the system would have to avoid hitting another vehicle at up to 62 mph.

Before NHTSA decides on a final version of the regulation, the regulation will undergo a 60-day public comment period.

According to NHTSA, this technology has the potential to reduce rear-end crashes. They estimate it would save at least 360 lives per year, as well as reduce other injuries by 24,000 per year.

The United States Department of Transportation has called the proposal a step in the right direction for reducing roadway deaths.

William Wallace, associate director of safety policy for Consumer Reports, said he welcomed NHTSA’s proposal as strong and justified.

“NHTSA is setting a high bar for safety, and using the tools at its disposal to get the auto industry to protect as many people as possible,” he said.

Wallace and Consumer Reports have found that an increase in government safety requirements do not increase the cost of vehicles.

The regulation will replace the 2016 agreement between the agency and 20 automakers to make the braking system standard on 95% of passenger vehicles by the end of the 2023 model year.

In a statement made on Wednesday, Alliance for Automotive Innovation, an industry trade group, said that it was still evaluating NHTSA’s proposal.

A study last year by The Partnership for Analytics Research in Traffic Safety found that the frequency of front-to-rear crashes was reduced 49% when the striking vehicle had forward collision alert plus automatic braking, compared with vehicles that lacked either system.

Automatic braking systems don’t come without issues, though. NHTSA has opened three investigations into systems from Tesla, Honda and Freightliner that activated the brakes when it was not needed.

But Markus Price, NHTSA’s division chief for visibility and injury prevention, said the new regulation is designed to reduce false braking by the systems.

“We’ve considered that in the rule,” he said. “We have a couple tests that help mitigate that.”

The Bottom Line

With support from agencies like the Department of Transportation and Consumer Reports, it is likely this regulation will be passed and implemented in the future, especially with the data and statistics provided by The Partnership for Analytics Research in Traffic Safety.

However, with the NHTSA investigation on AEB systems braking when not necessary, this lapse in technology could prevent the regulations implementation. 

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