NHTSA Wants Mandatory Automatic Emergency Braking On All New Cars

Many new cars already have AEB, but NHTSA wants to make it standard on all models.

byPeter Holderith|
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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed a rule that would make automatic emergency braking a mandatory feature on all new cars. The rule is still in its early phases, though it would mandate a system able to detect and automatically brake for other vehicles as well as pedestrians, day or night, at speeds up to 62 miles per hour.

The timeline for this proposal to become law is relatively long. NHTSA is currently in the process of receiving public comments about the proposal, after which it will decide whether to go ahead with the rule in September 2023. If it does, automakers will have four years to comply with every component of the legislation.

The administration claims that the rule could save up to 360 lives per year and prevent as many as 24,000 injuries. It also mentions that property damage would be seriously reduced as well. Even if the systems were only partially effective, NHTSA claims, mandatory AEB would still prevent severe injuries and damage to vehicles.

AEB systems work by using a variety of sensors to detect objects in front of a car. If the driver is not slowing fast enough to avoid a collision with the object, whether it's a vehicle, person, or something else, the system will apply the appropriate level of braking automatically to avoid an impact. Many automakers already have AEB systems installed in their vehicles, although some are proven to falter at night and at higher speeds.

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NHTSA's new proposal is similar to its previous rule requiring backup cameras on all new cars. The deadline for that requirement was May of 2018, even though the law requiring backup cameras was passed by Congress in 2007 as a part of the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act. It took NHTSA until 2014 to actually issue requirements to automakers, three years after its 2011 deadline.

Similar delays could happen here, but in this case, NHTSA is taking the initiative as opposed to Congress. Many new cars also already have AEB systems as optional equipment, which could mean a faster rollout.

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