Bus and Heavy Truck Automatic Emergency Braking Will Be Required Under Proposed Rulmaking

A proposed rule requiring automatic emergency braking for heavy trucks and buses would prevent thousands of crash related injuries a year, federal officials estimate.

Federal highway safety officials are calling for all heavy trucks and buses to feature automatic emergency braking systems, as part of a continuing effort to make sure the technology is included in new vehicles, since it has been proven to reduce the risk of injuries, deaths, and property damage from rear end, rollover, and loss of control accidents.

A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (PDF) was issued by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) last month, outlining an update to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards that requires automatic emergency braking (AEB) on heavy trucks and buses if finalized.

The NHTSA believes the automatic braking systems would be effective at detecting an imminent truck accident and automatically apply braking force to prevent an impact or lessen its severity.

The proposed rule aligns with recent NHTSA efforts to implement advanced driver assistance systems in more vehicles, since the widely available technology has been clearly shown to reduce collision risks with other motor vehicles, pedestrians, and roadway objects. A proposed NHTSA rule announced in June indicated that mandatory automatic emergency braking in passenger cars and light trucks could save hundreds of lives a year and reduce crash property damage costs.

Top Heavy Trucks and Buses Linked to Rear End, Rollover Accidents

Administration officials say automatic emergency braking systems will also decrease the risk of bus and truck accidents, which often have much more dire consequences given the heavy weights of the vehicles.

NHTSA officials indicate these technologies could substantially address heavy vehicle crash problems, indicating 11% of all motor vehicle accidents involve large trucks or buses. Fatal rear end crashes involving large vehicles kill 388 people annually, comprising over 7% of all heavy vehicle crash fatalities. These crashes also injure roughly 30,000 people annually and cause nearly 84,000 yearly property damage claims.

According to NHTSA data, there are 60,000 rear end crashes annually where a heavy truck or bus is the striking vehicle. The proposed rule comes after research showing that anti-collision technology can help prevent deadly rear end truck accidents.

Rollover accidents, which occurs when a truck or bus overturns while navigating a winding road or corner, could also be reduced with advanced braking systems, NHTSA officials say. In addition, commercial truck loss of control crashes, which can result from shifting cargo, road conditions, or excessive speeds, could also decrease with automatic emergency braking systems onboard, they theorize.

NHTSA officials estimate that the proposed rule may prevent 19,118 crashes, 155 deaths, and 8,814 injuries annually. They also indicate it would eliminate nearly 25,000 property damage only accidents every year.

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Proposed Rule Would Require Advanced Braking Technology For Heavy Vehicles

If finalized, the proposed rule would mandate AEB systems on all U.S. vehicles heavier than 10,000 pounds. That weight specification includes most heavy duty commercial trucks, and passenger buses. Vehicle manufacturers would have two years to comply after the rule is finalized.

AEB systems use advanced radar and camera-based sensor technology to detect when a crash with a pedestrian, cyclist, or another vehicle is imminent. The systems then apply the brakes either before the driver, or to provide the driver with additional braking force. This could help lessen, or prevent, the damage and injury risk from an impact.

The proposed heavy vehicle AEB technology would work at speeds as low as six miles per hour, and up to speeds approaching 50 miles an hour, according to the NHTSA.

“Advanced driver assistance systems like AEB have the power to save lives,” said NHTSA Chief Counsel Ann Carlson in an NHTSA press release. “Today’s announcement is an important step forward in improving safety on our nation’s roadways by reducing, and ultimately eliminating, preventable tragedies that harm Americans.”

Details on how to submit public comments are available in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. Comments will be accepted up to 60 days after the notice is published in the Federal Register.


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