Breaking: US Mandates Auto Emergency Braking on All Vehicles

Breaking: US Mandates Auto Emergency Braking on All Vehicles

In a significant move aimed at enhancing road safety, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced that all new passenger vehicles in the US will soon be required to come equipped with automatic emergency braking. This mandate is projected to not only save hundreds of lives but also prevent thousands of injuries annually. The regulation, heralded as the most consequential safety measure in the last twenty years, aims to address the alarming rate of traffic fatalities, which currently total around 40,000 deaths each year.

Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, emphasized the urgency of this regulation in light of the ongoing crisis of roadway deaths. The new rule marks the government’s initial effort to oversee automated driving functions, intending to mitigate issues that have emerged with driver-assist and fully automated driving systems in recent years.

While approximately 90% of new vehicles already feature automatic braking under a voluntary agreement with automakers, the absence of performance standards has led to varying levels of effectiveness among these systems. The upcoming regulations will establish uniform criteria for vehicles to autonomously halt and avoid collisions with other vehicles or pedestrians, even in low-light conditions.

The incoming standards stipulate that vehicles must possess forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and pedestrian detection braking. They mandate vehicles to cease and evade rear-end collisions at speeds up to 62 miles per hour and automatically apply brakes at speeds reaching 90 mph if an imminent collision is detected. Furthermore, the systems are required to detect pedestrians both day and night, capable of preventing collisions at speeds between 31 to 40 mph depending on the pedestrian’s movements.

Highlighting the necessity of such measures, NHTSA reported that in 2019 alone, nearly 2.2 million rear-end crashes resulted in 1,798 fatalities and over half a million injuries. Similarly, pedestrian fatalities stemming from crashes numbered at 6,272, with a significant portion occurring due to impacts from passenger vehicles. The prominence of fatalities, injuries, and property damage at speeds above 25 mph underscores the imperative of enforcing these regulations to ensure enhanced safety measures across the board.

The introduction of this regulation, however, will inevitably lead to increased manufacturing costs for automakers, estimated at $82 per vehicle, resulting in a total expenditure of $354 million annually. Nonetheless, the projected outcome of saving 362 lives yearly, preventing thousands of injuries, and curbing substantial property damage underscores the potential long-term benefits of this safety initiative.

Critics point out areas of improvement, suggesting that the standards could have arrived sooner and expressing concerns over the exclusion of specifications addressing bicyclists and scooter users. Cathy Chase, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, emphasized the importance of consumer awareness regarding the functionalities of automatic emergency braking systems, noting the forthcoming regulations will provide clarity and assurance to buyers.

As the automotive industry prepares to comply with these new requirements, the countdown begins for automakers to refine their systems within the allocated timeframe of over five years. The decisive role of regulations in ensuring standardized and effective safety technology across all vehicles signifies a pivotal step towards reducing road fatalities and injuries, ultimately enhancing the safety of road users nationwide.


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