A new proposed rule from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) may eventually require automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems on commercial vehicles.
The DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on May 31 that would require AEB and pedestrian AEB systems on all passenger vehicles and light trucks.
AEB systems use various sensor technologies and sub-systems to detect when a vehicle is about to crash and then automatically applies the brakes if the driver hasn’t already done so.
These systems also apply more braking force to supplement a driver’s braking if needed to avoid or mitigate the severity of a crash.
“We’ve seen the benefits of the AEB system in some passenger vehicles already even at lower speeds, and we want to expand the use of the technology to save even more lives,” said NHTSA Chief Counsel Ann Carlson. “That’s why our proposed rule would require all cars to be able to stop and avoid contact with a vehicle in front of them up to 62 miles per hour. And the proposal would require pedestrian AEB, including requiring that AEB recognize and avoid pedestrians at night.”
NSC, NTSB want similar rule for commercial vehicles
The National Safety Council (NSC) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) applauded the rulemaking effort and expressed their hope that a similar rule would be created covering commercial vehicles.
“As work on AEB continues, we hope to see this requirement extend to large trucks as well, an important segment of road users,” an NSC news release states.
NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy stated that she hopes “NHTSA … requires installation of AEB and pedestrian AEB in commercial vehicles,” something the board has had on its Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements since 2021.
Homendy said the NTSB will be submitting comments to the proposed rulemaking.
Proposed rule could save 360 lives, prevent 24K injuries per year
The proposed rule on passenger vehicles and light trucks “is expected to dramatically reduce crashes associated with pedestrians and rear-end crashes,” according to the NHTSA.
If finalized, the agency projects that the rule “would save at least 360 lives a year and reduce injuries by at least 24,000 annually.”
The use of AEB systems would cause many crashes to be avoided altogether and make others less destructive.
The proposed rule requires full collision avoidance at speeds up to 50 mph and sets pedestrian AEB performance standards in all lighting conditions at speeds up to 37 mph, according to information provided by the NSC.
“The rule in action would reduce injuries by at least 24,000 and save nearly 360 lives each year, pushing the country closer to achieving the goal of zero traffic fatalities,” the NSC states. “With NHTSA estimating nearly 7,400 pedestrians died in traffic crashes in 2021 coupled with NSC estimates showing motor vehicle deaths in the U.S. topped 46,000 for a second consecutive year in 2022, a rule like this is critical to saving lives.”
If adopted as proposed, nearly all U.S. light vehicles of a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less will be required to have AEB technology three years after the publication of a final rule.