Auto Industry Challenges New Braking Rule

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The auto industry’s main lobbying group is requesting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to reconsider its recent rule requiring all vehicles sold in the US to have advanced automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems. The group contends that the current technology is insufficient to meet the high standards outlined by the government, making the rule practically impossible to achieve by the target date of 2029.

Key Highlights

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has finalized a rule requiring all vehicles sold in the US to include robust AEB systems by 2029.
  • The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, representing major automakers, claims the rule is impractical with existing technology and has asked for reconsideration.
  • The new rule requires vehicles to stop and avoid contact with vehicles ahead up to 62 mph and automatically apply brakes up to 90 mph when a collision is imminent, and up to 45 mph when a pedestrian is detected.

In letters sent to NHTSA and members of Congress, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation argues that the auto industry’s suggestions were rejected during the rulemaking process. The group is requesting regulators to reconsider several key aspects to make the rule more achievable.

John Bozzella, the alliance’s president and CEO, stated in a letter to Congress that driving AEB-equipped vehicles under NHTSA’s new standard will become unpredictable and erratic, frustrating drivers.

In April, the US Department of Transportation finalized the rule requiring all vehicle manufacturers to include AEB in their sedans, SUVs, and pickup trucks by 2029. The new rule aims to prevent hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of injuries every year.

The rule mandates that vehicles must be able to stop and avoid contact with vehicles ahead up to 62 mph. Additionally, AEB systems must apply brakes automatically up to 90 mph when a collision with a lead vehicle is imminent and up to 45 mph when a pedestrian is detected. Vehicles must also detect pedestrians in both daylight and darkness.

However, Bozzella notes that almost no car on the road today can meet those standards. NHTSA’s own testing data revealed that only one vehicle met the stopping distance requirements in the final rule.

If the rule goes into effect, vehicles that detect objects in the road will automatically apply the brakes far in advance of what typical drivers expect, potentially increasing the likelihood of rear-end collisions. Additionally, vehicles will become more expensive due to the necessary and costly hardware and software changes.

Current AEB systems have proven less effective at preventing collisions. AAA has tested AEB systems and found several common scenarios where the technology fails. T-bone and left-turn collisions, which account for about 40 percent of fatal crashes, are still almost impossible to prevent using AEB. Furthermore, many AEB systems are ineffective at stopping vehicles from hitting children, especially at night.

Autonomous vehicles from companies like Waymo often face rear-end collisions by human drivers due to their more conservative approach to braking for objects and pedestrians in the road.

While safety advocates praised NHTSA’s new rules for potentially preventing deadly crashes and protecting vulnerable road users like pedestrians, there are concerns about the long delay in implementation. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety called the new rule “a step forward for safety.”

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The Brake Report
The Brake Report

The BRAKE Report is an online media platform dedicated to the automotive and commercial vehicle brake segments. Our mission is to provide the global brake community with the latest news & headlines from around the industry.