Automatic emergency braking reaches benchmark

All 20 participating automakers have fulfilled a voluntary pledge to equip nearly all the light vehicles they produce for the U.S. market with automatic emergency braking (AEB). Five new manufacturers installed AEB on more than 95% of the light vehicles they produced between Sept. 1, 2022, and Aug. 31, 2023, to meet the deadline set in the agreement. General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Maserati and Porsche all dramatically increased the proportion of their vehicles equipped with the technology to meet the target. Kia, which was already close last year, also crossed the finish line.

Audi, BMW, Ford/Lincoln, Honda/Acura, Hyundai/Genesis, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan/Infiniti, Stellantis, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota/Lexus, Volkswagen and Volvo fulfilled the voluntary commitment in previous years.

“Car buyers today will find that almost any new vehicle they buy comes standard with a city-speed AEB system, typically with pedestrian detection. This is significant progress, and it sets the stage for the strong federal safety standards that have been proposed,” said William Wallace, associate director of safety policy for Consumer Reports.

The 2016 commitment was brokered by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In it, the automakers pledged to equip at least 95% of their cars and trucks up to 8,500 pounds with the technology by the production year that ended last August.

It could get better yet. NHTSA unveiled a proposal on May 31, 2023, to require that all new passenger vehicles, trucks and buses with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less to have AEB capable of braking to fully avoid a crash with another vehicle at up to 50 mph. There will be a four-year grace period from the date the eventual rule is adopted. If the regulation is adopted in its present form, vehicles will also have to be able to stop for pedestrians from speeds up to 40 mph, and the pedestrian detection will have to work in dark conditions — a requirement for which IIHS had petitioned.

Last June, the agency proposed a regulation that would mandate AEB capable of preventing crashes with other vehicles for trucks and buses with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds.

Consumer Reports currently awards additional points to a vehicle’s Overall Score for models that have AEB with pedestrian detection as standard equipment and for AEB that operates at highway speeds. To be named a CR Top Pick, a vehicle must have both.

IIHS expects the voluntary commitment to prevent 42,000 crashes and 20,000 injuries by 2025. The estimate is based on IIHS research that found that front crash prevention systems with both forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking cut rear-end crashes by half.


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