Automakers Commit To Making Sensor-Based Emergency Braking Systems Standard In Vehicles

Earlier this year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced plans to change its vehicle safety rating program to include two sensor-based automatic emergency braking systems. While the agency didn’t go so far as to mandate automakers’ use of the systems, 10 manufacturers recently pledged to do so.

The Department of Transportation announced that 10 automakers will make automatic emergency braking (AEB) a standard feature on all of their newly built vehicles.

Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo will work with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and NHTSA in the coming months to create a plan for implementing the system as a standard feature on vehicles.

“We are entering a new era of vehicle safety, focused on preventing crashes from ever occurring, rather than just protecting occupants when crashes happen,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, said. “But if technologies such as automatic emergency braking are only available as options or on the most expensive models, too few Americans will see the benefits of this new era. These 10 companies are committing to making AEB available to all new-car buyers.”

The systems are intended to address a number of crashes, including rear-end crashes in which drivers do not apply sufficient braking power to avoid a crash.

AEB systems use on-vehicle sensors such as radar, cameras or lasers to detect an imminent crash, warn the driver and, if the driver does not take sufficient action, engage the brakes.

Regulators say the sensor-based technology could help to save hundreds, if not thousands, of lives each year by warning inattentive drivers or by intervening to prevent crashes. According to NHTSA data, nearly 60% of fatal highway accidents are caused by inattentive drivers.

NHTSA researchers found earlier this year that one-third of police reported crashes in 2013 involved rear-end collisions; a large number of those crashes were a result of drivers not applying the brakes or not fully braking.

“The evidence is mounting that AEB is making a difference,” IIHS President Adrian Lund said Friday. “Most crashes involve driver error. This technology can compensate for the mistakes every driver makes because the systems are always on alert, monitoring the road ahead and never getting tired or distracted.”