'Crisis in Roadway Deaths' Leads to Big Move by Feds

Automatic emergency braking will soon have to come standard on all new US passenger vehicles
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 30, 2024 10:55 AM CDT
Feds Issue First Mandate on Automated Driving Functions
A lineup of 2024 Accord sedans are displayed at a Honda dealership on April 14, 2023, in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

In the not-too-distant future, automatic emergency braking will have to come standard on all new passenger vehicles in the US, a requirement the government says will save hundreds of lives and prevent thousands of injuries each year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration unveiled the new regulation on Monday, calling it the most significant safety rule in the past two decades. It's designed to prevent many rear-end and pedestrian collisions and reduce the roughly 40,000 traffic deaths each year. "We're living through a crisis in roadway deaths," Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. "So we need to do something about it." It's the US government's first attempt to regulate automated driving functions.

Although about 90% of new vehicles have the automatic braking standard now under a voluntary agreement with automakers, at present there are no performance requirements. The new regulations require all passenger vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less to have a forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and pedestrian detection braking. The standards require vehicles to stop and avoid hitting a vehicle in front of them at speeds up to 62mph. They must also apply the brakes automatically at up to 90mph if a collision with a vehicle ahead is imminent. The systems also have to spot pedestrians at day and night, and must stop and avoid a pedestrian at 31mph to 40mph.

The regulation won't go into effect for more than five years, giving automakers time to bolster their systems during the normal model update cycle, the NHTSA said. It also will drive up prices, which NHTSA estimates at $82 per vehicle. But Buttigieg said it will save 362 lives per year, prevent about 24,000 injuries, and save billions in property damage. Critics, meanwhile, say the standards should have come sooner, and that they don't appear to require that the systems spot people on bicycles or scooters or other vulnerable people. More here.

(More braking system stories.)

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