U.S. Mandate Automatic Brakes Required in All New Cars by 2029

In a major regulatory shift aimed at enhancing road safety, all new cars and trucks sold in the United States from 2029 will be required to include automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems. This move, announced by federal regulators on Monday, aims to standardize safety across all new vehicles by equipping them with advanced technologies to prevent collisions.

The New Federal Safety Regulation

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has finalized a rule that imposes stricter requirements than the current automatic braking technologies available in most vehicles. Set for full compliance by September 2029, the rule aims to push the boundaries of existing vehicle safety features, with automakers expressing concerns about the feasibility of such advanced technology.

Detailed Requirements of the AEB Systems

According to a comprehensive 317-page guideline document, all light vehicles—which include cars, large pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles—will need to feature systems capable of automatically activating brakes. These systems should prevent collisions at speeds of up to 62 miles per hour and initiate braking at speeds up to 90 miles per hour if a collision is imminent, surpassing the highest U.S. speed limit of 85 miles per hour. Additionally, these systems must be equipped with pedestrian detection capabilities, further enhancing safety for all road users.

Rationale Behind the New Safety Standards

The decision to implement these new regulations is driven by an increase in traffic-related fatalities in recent years. With over 41,000 lives lost in automobile accidents in 2023 alone, the Biden administration, through statements by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, has highlighted the critical need for advanced safety mechanisms. These new standards are projected to save hundreds of lives and prevent tens of thousands of injuries annually.

The Role of Automatic Braking Systems in Safety

First introduced in 2011, automatic braking systems have significantly contributed to vehicle safety by using cameras, radar, or both to detect vehicles, pedestrians, or other obstacles. These systems not only alert the driver of potential collisions but also actively engage the brakes when necessary. Despite initial reservations, carmakers have acknowledged the life-saving potential of these systems, with around 90 percent of new vehicles currently featuring some form of AEB.

Industry Response and Concerns

While car manufacturers have voluntarily embraced AEB technology since 2016, making it standard in new vehicles, there remains a concern regarding the new mandate’s implications for driver control at high speeds. The industry’s main lobbying group, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, has expressed skepticism about the practicality and reasonableness of providing such advanced levels of collision avoidance under all conditions.

Cost Implications of the New Rule

The Biden administration estimates that the implementation of this rule will cost an average of $23 per vehicle, a relatively minor expense compared to the significant improvements in road safety and potential reductions in accident-related costs.

A Step Towards Safer Roads

As the U.S. takes a significant step towards safer roads with mandatory automatic emergency braking systems, the focus remains on balancing technological advancements with practical implementation. By 2029, these systems are expected to become a standard safety feature, reflecting a commitment to reducing traffic accidents and enhancing the overall safety of road travel.

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