Automakers and government agencies on Thursday made official a pledge to add automatic emergency braking on nearly every new vehicle by 2022.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety made the announcement Thursday in Virginia. The participating automakers include: Audi, BMW, FCA US LLC, Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Maserati, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan, Porsche, Subaru, Tesla Motors Inc., Toyota Motor Co., Volkswagen AG and Volvo Car USA.
The automakers have committed to make the feature standard on virtually all light-duty cars and trucks with a gross vehicle weight of 8,500 pounds or less no later than Sept. 1, 2022, and on virtually all trucks with a gross vehicle weight between 8,501 pounds and 10,000 pounds no later than Sept. 1, 2025.
“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,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “It’s a win for safety and a win for consumers.”
NHTSA estimates that Thursday’s agreement will make automatic emergency braking standard on new cars three years faster than could be achieved through the formal regulatory process. During those three years, according to IIHS estimates, the commitment will prevent 28,000 crashes and 12,000 injuries. It will reduce rear-end crashes 40 percent.
“We’re getting these safety systems into vehicles much faster than what would have been otherwise possible,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said in a statement. “A commitment of this magnitude is unprecedented, and it will bring more safety to more Americans sooner.”
NHTSA and IIHS said Consumer Reports will assist in monitoring automaker progress to meeting the AEB commitment.
Lawmakers offered mixed reactions.
U.S. Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, and Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Michael C. Burgess, R-Texas, praised the move in a joint statement.
“Today’s announcement from NHTSA is a welcome step forward in auto safety and industry competitiveness,” Upton and Burgess said. “The proof is in the pudding, and studies have shown that automatic braking technology reduces rear end crashes by 40 percent. What is now an option will soon be standard in most vehicles in a few short years, and that’s good news for safety.”
U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Edward Markey, D-Mass., said the move will take too long to implement.
“NHTSA is apparently content braking at the very last second for safety by allowing manufacturers to wait until 2022 to install lifesaving technology that has already been proven to save lives,” they said in a statement. “This safety technology, which could prevent or reduce the consequences of an estimated 80 percent of rear-end collisions, can and needs to be in the car of today, not the car of tomorrow. Today’s announcement by DOT and IIHS adds little to improve safety beyond the status quo, and simply demonstrates the continued culture of informality between automakers and regulators that has led to thousands of deaths.”