Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announcement
ARLINGTON, Va. — The infrastructure bill passed by the U.S. Senate this month contains a slew of long-awaited road-safety provisions. Many of them are based on or supported by research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute.
Among other things, the bill includes requirements for crash avoidance technology in passenger vehicles and large trucks, an update to the rear underride guard standard for large trucks that would align it more closely with IIHS tests, an update to headlight standards to require on-vehicle testing and to allow a new type of lighting technology, and a mandate to equip vehicles with passive alcohol detection technology.
“This bill pushes U.S. road safety policy forward in a number of areas, and we can see the work of IIHS-HLDI clearly reflected in many of the provisions,” said IIHS-HLDI President David Harkey. “In some cases, the legislation is catching up with industry changes that we have already set in motion; in others, the bill could tee up meaningful progress on issues that we have been sounding the alarm on for years.”
The infrastructure bill, the result of a bipartisan compromise, has the support of President Joe Biden. Assuming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi succeeds in shepherding it through the lower chamber as she intends, it is expected to become law this year.
Crash avoidance technology
In the catching-up category are instructions to the Department of Transportation (DOT) to require forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking (AEB) on passenger vehicles.
IIHS: Front Crash Prevention Works for Large Trucks
These features are already set to be standard on the vast majority of new vehicles by the 2022-23 production year, thanks to a voluntary commitment by manufacturers brokered by IIHS and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
A regulation would help fill in some gaps and would also include lane departure warning and lane-keeping assist, two technologies that are often bundled with AEB but are not covered by the voluntary commitment.
Perhaps more significantly, the infrastructure bill calls for a rule requiring newly manufactured large trucks to be equipped with AEB and for their drivers to be required to use the technology. This is an area in which the U.S. is behind; the European Union has required most new heavy trucks to have AEB since 2013.
IIHS and HLDI have been leaders in researching the effectiveness of crash avoidance technologies. For over a decade, HLDI has been using its trove of claims data to evaluate these features on passenger vehicles. More recently, IIHS researchers have strengthened the case for some of these features with analyses using police-reported crash data. For example, using police-reported crash data, IIHS has found that the combination of AEB and forward collision warning cuts front-to-rear crashes in half.
An IIHS study released last year found that AEB on could eliminate 2 out of 5 front-to-rear crashes by large trucks.