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ICYMI: Safety Advocates Voice Support for Biden Administration’s New Car Safety Rule That Will Save Hundreds of Lives Each Year

| Washington, DC

Similar to standardizing seat belts and air bags, making automatic emergency braking standard in new cars is one of the biggest road safety advancements in decades 

This week, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finalized a new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard that will make automatic emergency braking, including pedestrian AEB, standard on all passenger cars, SUVs, and light trucks by September 2029.

This safety standard is expected to significantly reduce rear-end and pedestrian crashes and annually save at least 360 lives, prevent at least 24,000 injuries, and save more than $5 billion each year in property damages. The standard requires all new cars, starting in 2029, to include technology that can stop and avoid contact with a vehicle in front of them when traveling up to 62 miles per hour and to be able to detect pedestrians in both daylight and darkness. In addition, the standard requires that the system apply the brakes automatically up to 90 mph when a collision with a lead vehicle is imminent, and up to 45 mph when a pedestrian is detected. Some vehicles being sold today already offer this maturing technology as an add-on feature, but the new rule makes this lifesaving technology standard and more effective. 

Watch U.S. Transportation Secretary Buttigieg’s exclusive interview about the new rule on NBC Nightly News here

The Biden-Harris Administration, safety stakeholders, and the general public know how urgent it is to improve safety on our nation’s roads. The standard fulfills a provision in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and advances the Department’s National Roadway Safety Strategy, which Secretary Buttigieg launched in January 2022 to address the national crisis in traffic fatalities and serious injuries. 

See below what safety stakeholders are saying about this livesaving safety standard: 

Cathy Chase, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety: “After years of skyrocketing traffic fatalities, NHTSA’s historic action on AEB is a true game changer. It will protect road users from crashes, including pedestrians who accounted for almost a fifth of all traffic fatalities in 2022. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety has been consistent, persistent and insistent for a decade pushing to get a comprehensive AEB safety standard. This rule is a major victory for all consumers and public safety.” [Statement, 4/29/2024] 

Joan Claybrook, Former Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: “We are in the middle of a full-blown safety crisis on our nation’s highways. I am thrilled that the U.S. DOT has issued this life-giving AEB safety standard with pedestrian detection for all new passenger cars and light trucks. As a former NHTSA administrator, I know requiring AEB as standard equipment will prevent or mitigate injury in tens of thousands front-to-rear crashes every year. This new safety rule, by preventing or reducing the force of highway crashes, matches the importance of airbags and safety belts that prevent or reduce harm to occupants when crashes do occur. It also assures AEB is no longer a luxury feature reserved only for those who can afford it as optional equipment. This safety system is a proven innovation that should be hailed, honored and heralded.” [Statement, 4/29/2024] 

Matt Gannon, Head of Federal and Eastern State Legislative Affairs, Farmers Insurance, and Insurance Co-Chair of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety: “I am pleased to see the U.S. DOT take concrete action to reduce fatalities and injuries by completing the rulemaking on AEB with pedestrian detection for passenger vehicles and light trucks. Because of this step, hundreds of families every year will be saved from losing a loved one and thousands of people won’t experience the heartache and pain caused by a crash. The U.S. DOT, NHTSA, Congress and safety advocates should be commended for advancing this rule which will benefit all road users for the foreseeable future.” [Statement, 4/29/2024] 

Jack Gillis, Former Executive Director, Consumer Federation of America, and Consumer Co-Chair of Advocates’ Board of Directors: “Before this day is over, 116 people will die in a motor vehicle crash and another 6,575 will be injured, on average. While the new AEB rule won’t be a panacea for this crisis, it’s a significant part of the traffic safety toolbox that will one day put these horrifying statistics behind us. It is heartening that when consumers go to auto showrooms where they often are making one of the largest purchases in their family budgets, they will have the assurance of safety performance standards for AEBs. DOT’s action on AEB will go down as a watershed moment in the fight for more equitable, safer roadways for all.” [Statement, 4/29/2024] 

National Safety Council: “As NSC and other roadway advocacy groups soon descend upon Capitol Hill during Infrastructure Week to meet with federal legislators on issues impacting pedestrians and other vulnerable road users, we applaud NHTSA for this AEB standard and hope to see this requirement extend to large trucks. NSC stands ready to continue working with employers, policymakers, government agencies and community leaders across public and private sectors to prioritize the safe mobility for all roadway users in the U.S.” [Statement, 4/30/2024] 

William Wallace, Associate Director of Safety Policy for Consumer Reports: “This rule will set a vital baseline for every new car on the road. People should be able to trust that the lifesaving technology on their car is going to be there for them when they need it, and that’s what this rule will accomplish. These requirements are strong, but they’re also clearly feasible for automakers to meet, so we urge automakers to step up and meet this rule’s minimum standards without delay.” [Statement, 04/29/2024] 

In a letter signed by members of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety Board of Directors, which include Allstate Insurance Company, American Public Health Association, Amica Mutual Insurance Company, Center for Auto Safety, Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, Kids and Car Safety, Liberty Mutual Insurance, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, NJM Insurance Group, Society for the Advancement of Violence and Injury Research, Selective Insurance Company of America, State Farm Insurance Companies, and Trauma Foundation: “[We] extend our deep appreciation to the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for completing the rulemaking requiring automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection for light vehicles.

By NHTSA’s own estimation, this action will save hundreds of lives and billions of dollars annually. Realizing this milestone for roadway safety is especially gratifying as Advocates and other stakeholders, including numerous crash victims and survivors, have spent years during the legislative and administrative processes striving toward this goal.” 

Read more about the new standard.

NHTSA 202-366-9550