The U.S. Department of Transportation included automatic emergency braking for both light- and heavy-duty vehicles on its regulatory agenda, which identifies actions the DOT plans to take during the next year and beyond.
In the June 11 announcement of its Spring Regulatory Agenda, the department said the document illustrates its “commitment to safety for transportation workers and the traveling public, fighting climate change, advancing equity, and building our economy back better.”
On the agenda is for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require heavy and light vehicles to include automatic emergency braking.
NHTSA had proposed a regulation on automatic emergency braking in 2015, following a petition from safety organizations Truck Safety Coalition, the Center for Auto Safety, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, and Road Safe America. The American Trucking Associations in 2015 offered its support of the regulation.
But the regulation went nowhere during the Trump administration, although a 2018 report from FMCSA looked at how the voluntary adoption of such systems in commercial motor vehicles could be accelerated.
According to the Associated Press, NHTSA said it has been studying use of the electronic systems and plans to publish a proposed rule in the Federal Register in April of next year.
More Pressure for AEB
The DOT isn't the only place we're seeing increasing demand for this technology to be more widespread.
Last fall, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported that equipping large trucks with forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking systems could eliminate more than two out of five crashes in which a truck rear-ends another vehicle. Trucks equipped with forward collision warning had 22% fewer crashes and trucks with AEB had 12% fewer crashes than those without either technology.
The National Transportation Safety Board, in its Most Wanted List published earlier this year, called for the government to complete standards for collision-warning and automatic emergency braking systems in commercial vehicles and require this technology in all highway vehicles and all new school buses.
At the same time, the issue of automatic emergency braking has come up as part of the back-and-forth on Capitol Hill on infrastructure funding. Earlier this month, the Truck Safety Coalition sent a letter to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leaders calling for automatic emergency braking to be required on all new vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds.
“This provision was part of the Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2, 116th Congress) but has been severely weakened by only applying to Class 7 and 8 trucks in the INVEST in America Act,” the letter said, saying that “limiting the installation of AEB to Class 7 and 8 trucks will potentially exclude more than half a million new vehicles every year.”
The DOT’s new regulatory agenda also addresses autonomous vehicles. It aims to establish “rigorous testing standards” for autonomous vehicles and establish a national incident database for crashes involving automated vehicles, as well as “create a safe, predictable environment for autonomous vehicle evolution.”
Any proposals would only be made into final regulations after opportunities for public review and comment.
Check out the IIHS video of its AEB testing: