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Major Automakers Commit to Automatic Emergency Braking Standard: NHTSA

Twenty automakers have committed to including automatic emergency braking (AEB) as a standard feature by the year 2022, meaning the safety measure will be included on virtually all new vehicles and may help prevent an estimated 30,000 accidents annually. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a press release on March 17, announcing that automakers responsible for manufacturing more than 99% of all vehicles sold in the United States, have committed meeting a challenge issued by the agency late last year, which sought to include automatic braking technology on all vehicles, not just high-end models.

NHTSA officials have called emergency braking an essential safety technology, which should not be considered optional at the time of purchase. The agency claims that the automatic braking may help drivers avoid accidents, and potentially reduce the nuimber of roadway injuries each year by up to 12,000.

The first ten automakers to commit to the automatic emergency braking challenge were Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo, according to the NHTSA. These ten accounted for 57% of U.S. light weight vehicle sales in 2014.

Honda, FCA, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Maserati, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan, Porsche, and Subaru have all also committed to implementing the automatic emergency braking technology under the same terms. The accumulative commitment from these 20 automakers now makes up more than 99% of all U.S. roadway auto manufacturers.

The terms call for automatic emergency braking to become standard on virtually all light-duty cars and trucks with gross vehicle weights of 8,500 pounds or less beginning no later than September 1, 2022, and to have automatic emergency braking a standard feature on all trucks with a gross weight between 8,501 pounds and 10,000 pounds beginning no later than September 1, 2025.

The technology includes a wide variety of systems designed to prevent auto accidents when the driver does not react fast enough, or does not apply sufficient braking power. The systems use multiple on-vehicle sensors such as radar, cameras, and lasers to detect potential crash threats, and engage the vehicle’s brakes if necessary.

Braking System Studies Show Improved Safety

The auto braking technology has been proven to be beneficial in several studies, including one published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) that indicated automatic emergency braking technology could reduce insurance injury claims by as much as 35% by compensating for distracted driving mistakes that has been attributed to majority of roadway crashes.

According to NHTSA Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, the acceptance of automakers to include automatic emergency braking is an encouraging step in the right direction that will speed up the process. Foxx stated the voluntary commitments will put automatic emergency braking technology in vehicles three years faster than if it had gone through formal regulatory process to implement.

“It’s an exciting time for vehicle safety,” Foxx said in the press release. “By proactively making emergency braking systems standard equipment on their vehicles, these 20 automakers will help prevent thousands of crashes and save lives. It’s a win for safety and a win for consumers.”

According to the IIHS, new safety features could result in cheaper insurance premiums for drivers, stating that insurance carriers could explore offering discounts and incentives to customers who purchase new vehicles with AEB technology, said Jack Salzwedel, IIHS Board Chairman and CEO of American Family Insurance.

One factor which may have played a role in the commitments was a November 2015 announcement by the NHTSA that it would be upgrading its 5-Star Rating System to include automatic emergency braking as a recommended safety technology in 2018. In addition, as part of the NHTSA’s New Car Assessment Program released in January, the agency and the IIHS have planned to set specific performance criteria for manufactures to meet to be eligible for the desirable “IIHS Top Safety Pick” award which mandates vehicles contain automatic emergency braking technology.

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