It seems as though the U.S. Government is continually having to save us from ourselves with regards to the vehicles we drive. Over the years, we’ve seen mandates with regards to antilock braking systems (ABS), airbags, stability control systems and even backup cameras. Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is hoping to save more lives with a new directive on automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems for automobiles.
A number of luxury vehicles have included such technology for nearly a decade, and it has even filtered down to mainstream vehicles in higher trims or via option packages. But the NHTSA has announced that it has reached an agreement with 20 auto manufacturers, which together represent 99 percent of the vehicles sold within the United States and its territories, to install AEB systems in “virtually all new cars” by September 1st, 2022.
That means that even bottom rung vehicles like the Mitsubishi Mirage and Nissan Versa should come from the factory standard with the camera, proximity and computing systems necessary to make AEB possible. AEB systems can completely prevent an impending collision or at least reduce the severity of a collision without driver intervention (either because the driver is inattentive or do to incapacitation).
“It’s an exciting time for vehicle safety. By proactively making emergency braking systems standard equipment on their vehicles, these 20 automakers will help prevent thousands of crashes and save lives,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “It’s a win for safety and a win for consumers."
“With roadway fatalities on the rise, the commitment made today has the potential to save more lives than almost anything else we can accomplish in the next six years," added Deborah A.P. Hersman, President and CEO of the National Safety Council. "Including all models in the agreement ensures that safety isn't for just those who can afford it."
What was not mentioned during the announcement is how much AEB will add to the cost of new vehicles. Cameras, radar, and laser systems are by no means cheap, so the end result will be increased new vehicle pricing for all of us. But the NHTSA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) feel that it’s a price well worth paying due to the projecting reduction in crashes, injuries and fatalities.
It should be noted that today’s announcement only pertains to cars and light-duty trucks with a gross vehicle weight of 8,500 lbs or less. Trucks weighting between between 8,501 lbs and 10,000 lbs will be subject to the AEB mandate by September 1st, 2025.