Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) is on track to become standard equipment on cars and light trucks sold here.
Recently, 10 major automakers entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), its National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) to make this advanced safety system standard equipment on all their vehicles sold in the U.S. (and by default, Canada).
Automatic Emergency Braking systems are the next step beyond Forward Collision Warnings, which use in-vehicle sensors such as radar, laser and cameras to detect an imminent crash and warn the driver.
If the driver doesn’t respond appropriately and quickly enough to such a warning, the system automatically engages the brakes. That brake application may not be sufficient to prevent a collision, depending on the vehicle closing speed, but at the very least, it will mitigate its severity.
Warning systems are now available on more than half the models sold in North America, and autobrake on about a quarter, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). They are standard equipment on very few, typically high-priced models, however.
The 10 automakers making that commitment — Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo — will work together with the IIHS and NHTSA on the details and timeline for making AEB a standard feature.
No date has been set yet for when that action will occur.
This joint strategy relieves the regulators from the onerous burden of forced rule-making, with all the political and bureaucratic roadblocks that process entails. Plus, it allows the automakers to have serious input into critical aspects of the technology’s implementation in a cooperative, rather than antagonistic, relationship.
The downside is that it won’t cover all vehicles on the market immediately. But those 10 manufacturers combined account for more than half of all new-vehicle sales in North America, so the competitive pressures on their competitors to follow suit will be huge.
“These 10 manufacturers have committed to an important principle: AEB is a life-saving technology that should be available to every vehicle owner,” said NHTSA Administrator, Mark Rosekind. “In the months ahead, NHTSA will work closely with IIHS and the auto industry to carry out that commitment, and we encourage every other manufacturer to join this effort.”
Several studies, including a recent report from IIHS, show that AEB technology can reduce insurance injury claims by as much as 35 per cent.
“The evidence is mounting that AEB is making a difference,” said IIHS President Adrian Lund. “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.”