Automakers Request NHTSA To Reconsider New AEB Rule

Automakers Say Meeting Requirements Isn't Possible With Current Tech...

A group representing major automakers has urged the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to reconsider the recent rule mandating that nearly all new cars and trucks be equipped with advanced Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) systems by 2029. The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which includes industry giants like General Motors (GM), Toyota Motor, and Volkswagen Group, contends that the requirement is unfeasible with existing technology.

The rule, issued in April, demands that all cars and trucks be capable of stopping to avoid collisions with vehicles in front of them at speeds up to 62 mph. The automakers’ group argues this is “practically impossible with available technology.”

The mandate stems from a directive in the 2021 infrastructure law, which tasked NHTSA with setting minimum performance standards for AEB systems. These systems utilize sensors such as cameras and radar to detect imminent crashes and automatically apply brakes if the driver does not react in time.

Automakers argue that the stringent requirements for higher speeds could lead to unintended consequences. The group claims that vehicles might “automatically apply the brakes far in advance of what a typical driver and others on the road would expect,” potentially causing rear-end collisions. Furthermore, they assert that NHTSA has “vastly underestimated the necessary and costly hardware and software changes required for vehicles to comply.”

In a letter to Congress, John Bozzella, CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation stated that the regulation “points to the breakdown of a deliberative rulemaking process at the country’s top traffic safety watchdog.” Bozzella also expressed concerns that NHTSA’s actions would lead to more expensive systems without enhancing driver or pedestrian safety.

The rule is one of the most comprehensive U.S. auto safety regulations in recent years. While safety advocates acknowledge that existing systems often underperform, especially at night, they emphasize the need for these new rules to prevent more crashes.

NHTSA has yet to comment on the automakers’ request. However, in April, the agency projected that the rule would save at least 360 lives annually and prevent at least 24,000 injuries, noting the increase in traffic deaths post-COVID-19.

The new regulation requires AEB systems to automatically apply brakes at speeds up to 90 mph when a collision with a lead vehicle is imminent and up to 45 mph when a pedestrian is detected. Automakers suggest that NHTSA consider adopting the European standard, which involves detecting potential forward collisions, issuing driver warnings, and automatically engaging the braking system.

In 2016, 20 automakers voluntarily agreed to make AEB standard on nearly all U.S. vehicles by 2022. By December, all 20 had equipped at least 95% of their vehicles with AEB. However, critics argue that government regulations are necessary to ensure the effectiveness of these systems.

Initially, NHTSA proposed in March 2023 that nearly all vehicles comply within three years. The current rule extends this timeline to five years.

Source: Reuters