The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has submitted a proposal to make automatic emergency braking systems (AEB) a required safety measure in all new vehicles.
AEB systems rely on various sensors to track vehicle environments and apply brakes when the driver fails to react to an oncoming object. While the effectiveness of automatic braking differs somewhat between brands, the NHTSA proposes a unified standard, requiring all cars to include pedestrian detection and be capable of preventing accidents at speeds up to 62 miles per hour.
The agency notes that such a rule could prevent 360 deaths and 24,000 injuries annually and that many accidents “would be avoided altogether…” As currently written, the rule would apply to new vehicles in the small-to-mid-size range but not to those heavier than 10,000 pounds. Car manufacturers would have three years to comply with the policy once implemented.
U.S. transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg compared the safety measure to older devices such as airbags and seat belts, stating, “Automatic emergency braking on cars and trucks would keep all of us safer on our roads.” NHTSA chief counsel Ann Carlson also called the rule “a major safety advancement” and noted that AEB systems have proved successful even at slower speeds.
The proposal is part of the NHTSA’s National Roadway Safety Strategy, which is supported by funds distributed under the Biden Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This legislation includes a provision requiring the agency “to create a rule to establish minimum performance standards requiring that all passenger vehicles manufactured for sale in the United States be equipped with an AEB system.”