• Mon. May 27th, 2024

U.S. Requires Automatic Emergency Braking on New Vehicles

ByPeter Thiel

Apr 30, 2024

Enhanced Vehicle Safety Regulations

New requirements from the United States government will soon make automatic emergency braking (AEB) a mandatory feature in all new passenger vehicles. This significant regulatory update aims to address the high rates of traffic fatalities, which approximate 40,000 per year, by mitigating rear-end and pedestrian collisions.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has underscored the urgency of addressing the current crisis in roadway deaths, highlighting the potential of modern technologies to improve safety standards substantially. Although many vehicles already have some form of AEB due to a voluntary agreement between automakers, the lack of uniform performance standards has raised concerns over the effectiveness of these systems.

The upcoming regulations not only mandate the inclusion of AEB systems but also set specific performance criteria, such as the capability to autonomously prevent collisions with both vehicles and pedestrians at specific speeds, even in low-light conditions. These preventative measures are expected to save lives, lessen the number of injuries, and reduce property damage resulting from vehicle accidents.

Key Aspects of the New AEB Mandate:

  • Inclusion in Vehicles: Targets passenger vehicles weighing up to 10,000 pounds.
  • Collision Prevention Capabilities: Requires systems to automatically halt the vehicle to avoid impacts with another vehicle at speeds up to 62 mph and to apply braking at speeds up to 90 mph when a collision is imminent.
  • Pedestrian Detection: Mandates the detection of pedestrians and the ability to avert collisions from 31 mph to 40 mph, catering to a variety of pedestrian movement patterns.
  • Investment and Benefits: Estimates an increased cost of $82 per vehicle but forecasts the prevention of approximately 24,000 injuries annually and the saving of 362 lives per year.

Implementation Timeline and Testing:

  • Effective Period: The new AEB requirements will take effect after five years, aligning with typical cycles of vehicle model updates.
  • Cost Analysis: Anticipated increase in costs due to necessary enhancements in software and potentially added hardware such as radar, calculated at $354 million annually.
  • Compliance Testing: NHTSA plans to carry out random testing to ensure manufacturers adhere to the new performance standards.

Despite the strong push for these advancements in vehicle safety, some critics argue that the rule fails to adequately cover other vulnerable road users such as cyclists and individuals on scooters. Additionally, there is some dissatisfaction regarding the extended timeline for implementation, suggesting that a shorter period would lead to faster safety improvements on the roads.

The safety administration recognizes that a precise prediction of vehicle-to-pedestrian incidents cannot be made; however, data indicates that a significant number of pedestrian deaths occur when struck by the front of a vehicle. Current voluntary agreements do not encompass speed thresholds consistent with the majority of real-world crashes, which take place at speeds beyond 25 mph.

In a bold move to standardize safety, automakers are provided with the flexibility to decide on the sensor technologies to integrate, though tests have shown that radar might be essential for compliance. Only one vehicle among several tested, the Toyota Corolla, met the new criteria using a combination of cameras and radar systems.

The administration believes setting these new regulations will provide clear assurances to consumers regarding the reliability of AEB features. Moreover, with federal government oversight, there is an expectation for an overall enhancement in consumer protection and roadway safety. As car buyers become more informed about the utility of AEB, the demand for adherence to strong safety standards will likely grow, prompting quicker updates to vehicle safety technologies.