WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government’s auto safety agency plans to require that all new passenger cars and light trucks include potentially life-saving automatic emergency braking and meet stricter safety standards within three years.
Wednesday’s announcement by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration represents the agency’s latest move toward regulating electronic systems that take on certain tasks that drivers themselves have normally done. NHTSA has been reluctant in the past to impose regulations, saying the technology will change during the time it takes to enact new rules.
Ann Carlson, the safety agency’s chief counsel, says 90% of new passenger vehicles already include the braking technology under a voluntary program that automakers have approved. But she says NHTSA wants to make the braking systems more effective at higher speeds and better at avoiding pedestrians.
“With this proposal, we could change a high-speed crash from a deadly one to a lower-speed crash with minor injuries or just property damage,” Carlson said.
The regulations will undergo a 60-day public comment period before NHTSA will decide on a final version.
With the announcement, the agency is responding to requirements approved by Congress in the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law that require automakers to equip new passenger vehicles with automatic braking and other safety technology.
Automatic emergency braking can detect objects in the way and stop or slow a vehicle, preventing a crash or making it less severe.