US safety regulations will require better automatic braking

US safety regulations will require better automatic braking

With distracted driving and pedestrian deaths on the rise, auto industry regulators believe the technology could prevent hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries each year.

New regulations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will require improved automated braking systems on new cars sold in the United States by September 2029.

The new rules require the system to automatically apply the brakes and prevent crashes and pedestrian impacts at higher speeds than most current systems, and to work at night as well as during the day.

Although automatic emergency braking, or AEB, is already standard on new vehicles sold in the US, this new requirement will save hundreds of lives each year, NHTSA officials said in a statement.

AEB is standard equipment on the vast majority of new vehicles sold thanks to a voluntary agreement signed by most automakers in 2016. Currently, AEB is used mostly to avoid rear-end collisions, a very common type of accident.

Vehicles with AEB use sensors such as radar, sonar or cameras to detect when the vehicle in front has slowed or stopped, or if there are obstacles in the road. If the driver fails to react in time or with sufficient braking force, the AEB system applies the brakes automatically.

Although AEB may not always prevent an accident, it can, at least, reduce the severity of the impact. Research by the privately funded Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows today’s AEB systems reduce rear-end collisions by about 50%.

Vehicles with pedestrian detection add sensors or cameras to detect the presence of people walking in front of the car while it is driving. Again, if the driver fails to respond, the system will automatically stop the car. And even if they don’t stop cars, they can reduce the severity of injuries to pedestrians. A recent study by the IIHS found that AEB with pedestrian detection reduces the risk of injury to pedestrians by approximately 30%.

Pedestrian deaths have increased 83% since reaching a low in 2009, according to the IIHS. Cyclist deaths from being hit by vehicles have increased by 75% over the same period.

The new NHTSA rules will require an AEB system that can help prevent a collision with another car at speeds up to 62 miles per hour, and will require the car to stop before hitting a pedestrian from speeds as high as 45 miles per hour. The system also has to apply the brakes at speeds of up to 90 miles per hour, although it cannot completely prevent a crash.

The same study found that pedestrian detection systems in today’s vehicles are ineffective in low light conditions, at high speeds, or when the vehicle is turning – so, the agency sees significant room for improvement.

The new rules will prevent as many as 360 deaths each year, according to NHTSA, and up to 24,000 injuries.

“Most new vehicles already come with AEB, and we expect that many cars and light trucks will be able to meet these standards before the deadline, meaning more lives will be saved thanks to this technology,” NHTSA Deputy Administrator Sophie Shulman said in a statement.

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