U.S. will require all new cars to have auto emergency braking systems

Auto manufacturers are on notice about a mandatory new safety feature that must be installed in every vehicle by 2029: automatic emergency braking.

This new rule was finalized on Monday, April 29th as a new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigeig supported this ruling, and released a statement indicating that it “will save hundreds of lives and prevent tens of thousands of new injuries every year.” These new features must be implemented by September 2029.

couple slamming on the brakes

How many lives will automatic emergency braking save?

Though we won’t have direct reporting on this until 2030, the National Highway Safety Administration estimates that automatic emergency braking in cars will:

  • Save at least 360 lives
  • Prevent 24,000 injuries

These estimates are per year, in the United States. Currently, the U.S. sees:

  • 46,980 fatal crashes per year
  • 5,400,000 injuries per year

It should be noted that the number of injuries per year is lower than the actual number. Not every injury is reported to a medical professional.

It may seem as if saving 360 lives out of the annual average of 46,980 fatalities is not a significant percent. And indeed, this safety feature is estimated to save approximately 0.76% of the total.  But preserving human life is vital, and it means 350 fewer families will not have to suffer a devastating loss. Plus, more lives will be saved as technology advances.

How does automatic emergency braking (EAB) work?

The system detects potential collisions as the driver navigates the roads. This includes other drivers, pedestrians, and objects, such as trees or street signs.

The technology used for EAB is a network of sensors and forward-facing cameras. The cameras face the front of the vehicle because this braking system is built to prevent rear-end collisions. This is one of the most common types of incidents, which account for nearly half of all car accidents. The advent of cell phones and technology features see drivers more distracted than ever, which is one of the reasons why EAB technology is being implemented.

Though this feature is now standard equipment in all new vehicles, this 2029 requirement also makes the following features mandatory:

  • There must be pedestrian detection technology included
  • The system must work in daylight and darker conditions

Auto manufacturers are on board with these advances. The race to include superior safety features is a major selling point with new cars. In September 2022, 20 automakers, whose vehicles represent 99% of the U.S. market, had already committed to making AEB standard.

Dustracted driving statstics

Distracted driving and rear-end collisions

To create a clearer picture of the dangers distracted driving has posed, consider the following statistics:

  • Approximately 87% of rear-end collisions occur due to distracted driving.
  • Almost 30% of severe injuries reported are due to rear-end crashes
  • 85% of neck injuries from car accidents were due to a rear-end collision.
  • Drivers are distracted for myriad reasons, but the most reported issues are daydreaming, and looking at their phones or related screens.
  • Approximately 1,700 people die every year in a rear-end collision.
  • A total of 3,349 drivers in fatal crashes are categorized as distracted.
  • The rear driver in a rear-end accident is almost always at fault.

The lowdown on AEB crash test data

AEB technology continues to improve, and the latest statistics from the Automobile Association of America (AAA) are as follows:

  • AEB was successful in preventing rear-end collisions in 85% of situations that would have otherwise resulted in a crash when vehicles were traveling at 30 miles per hour.
  • At 40 mph, the technology only prevented 30% of rear-end collisions.
  • Even if the vehicle is unable to make a complete stop in time, the braking reduces speed and lessens the overall impact.
  • The technology was unable to prevent crashes when vehicles made left turns in front of an oncoming vehicle, per the AAA study.
  • Testing still shows that AEB is still less effective at night.

crash test data

You will note there is a drastic drop-off in the safety percentages. With only ten more miles per hour of speed, the chances of AEB activating to save a collision drops from 85% to 30%. Be sure to always drive the speed limit and follow the rule of seconds to avoid a crash.

The above statistics may reflect the current crash test success rates, but by 2029, the Department of Transportation demands a higher standard.

The 2029 rule requires:

  • AEB must be effective at stopping and avoiding contact with a vehicle at speeds up to 62 mph.
  • The AEB system must automatically apply the brakes at speeds up to 90 mph when a collision with a vehicle in front of it is imminent.
  • The system must apply the brakes at speeds up to 45 mph when a pedestrian is detected.
  • These features must be implemented in light trucks in addition to cars.
  • There is currently legislation to implement this same technology in tractor-trailers, but the proposal has yet to be finalized.

Robert C.T. Reed

Will the automatic system brake too hard and injure me?

It is understandable to feel a bit of skepticism when an auto manufacturer implements a safety feature that you cannot control. But AEB systems are designed to mimic the amount of pressure a driver would have used in the same situation. Some cars even pulse the brakes multiple times per second for better traction.

This feature is an extra safeguard, but not a green light to slack behind the wheel. An AEB system does not replace eyes and ears on the road. In fact, people who utilize self-driving cars are still required to pay attention while driving. The technology in self-driving cars has not been perfected, and fatal crashes are still prevalent.

Advanced safety features are important, but not a foolproof solution against auto accidents. If you have been hurt in a car crash through no fault of your own, you needn’t navigate legal and medical matters alone. You also may be entitled to compensation. For a free case evaluation, trust the experienced and compassionate car accident attorneys at Allen & Allen. Call today at 866-388-1307.