Automakers pledge to make automatic emergency braking standard

By Bob Nagy on September 14, 2015 4:17 AM

The U.S Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) announced that 10 major auto manufactures have committed to fitting automatic emergency braking (AEB) to their future vehicles as standard equipment. The statement, presented at the dedication of the recently expanded IIHS Vehicle Research Center in Virginia, went on to say that Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo will work with IIHS and NHTSA in the months ahead to iron out specific details about the implementation of this historic commitment to AEB, including the timeline to make it happen. 

Prevention is the key 

In lauding these 10 companies -- a group that collectively accounted for 57 percent vehicle sales here in 2014 -- U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said: "We are entering a new era of vehicle safety, focused on preventing crashes from ever occurring, rather than just protecting occupants when crashes happen. But if technologies such as automatic emergency braking are only available as options or on the most expensive models, too few Americans will see the benefits of this new era." 

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According to the IIHS just one percent of 2015 models come with AEB as standard while only 26 percent even offer it as an option. The system relies on a number of in-vehicle sensing devices including radar, cameras and/or lasers to detect an imminent crash, issue visible and audio warning and ultimately engage the brakes should the driver fail to take timely action. Given that the organization recently made AEB mandatory for any vehicle hoping to earn a Top Safety Pick+ rating, it seems likely more manufacturers will be joining the ranks of this initial group at some point. 

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"The evidence is mounting that AEB is making a difference," said IIHS President Adrian Lund, who noted that recent in-house study found that AEB technology can reduce injury claims by as much as 35 percent. "Most crashes involve driver error. This technology can compensate for the mistakes every driver makes because the systems are always on alert, monitoring the road ahead and never getting tired or distracted."

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