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Speeches and Presentations

Automatic Emergency Braking Rulemaking Announcement Press Conference

Ann Carlson, NHTSA Chief Counsel

Wednesday, May 31, 2023 |

Washington, D.C.

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you so much, Deputy Secretary. I appreciate you being here for this very exciting announcement about AEB and pedestrian AEB – lifesaving technologies. 

Motor vehicle crashes come at a tremendous cost in lives taken, people injured, and property damaged. According to NHTSA research, traffic crashes cost American society $340 billion in 2019. In just that one year, an estimated 36,500 people were killed, another 4.5 million were injured, and 23 million vehicles were damaged. 

Traffic crashes devastate families and place a tremendous economic burden on society, and this rulemaking can help save lives and reduce injuries and damages.

NHTSA incorporated forward collision warning in our Five-Star Safety Ratings program in model year 2011, and AEB in model year 2018. Approximately 65% of new vehicles now meet the NCAP’s test procedures for these technologies. 

Similarly, a voluntary commitment with automakers has resulted in AEB systems in approximately 90% of new light vehicles.

The technology is mature enough now for us to propose mandating its inclusion in all new vehicles – and requiring these systems to be much more effective at much higher speeds. 

We are also including what we call full collision avoidance. That means that a vehicle has to be able to stop without touching another vehicle in front of it. The test is very tough and that’s to eliminate as many collisions as possible.

We believe these standards will maximize the lifesaving potential of these technologies. Our data show that most fatalities, injuries, and property damage crashes occur at speeds above 25 miles per hour.

This proposal would require AEB systems to fully avoid other vehicles up to 50 miles per hour when a driver fails to react.

If a driver brakes some but not with the full force required, the AEB system would have to fully avoid another vehicle at speeds up to 62 miles per hour. This could change a high-speed crash from a deadly one to a lower-speed crash with minor injuries or just property damage.

This goes significantly above and beyond the voluntary AEB commitment and is a significant safety milestone.

This rule would also help save lives among vulnerable road users, including cyclists and pedestrians, who are at greater risk of severe injury or death in vehicle crashes. 

Pedestrian deaths have increased by 53% over the last 10 years. They are an increasingly large percentage of overall fatalities, especially in urban areas. And 65% of pedestrian fatalities and 67% of pedestrian injuries resulted from being struck by the front of a light vehicle. 

This NPRM proposes AEB systems that will reduce the frequency and severity of pedestrian crashes. Our requirements for AEB would have prevented many of the approximately 23,000 annual injuries that occurred between 2016 and 2019. In addition, these systems will lessen the severity of crashes, including pedestrian fatalities, that occur each year.

For example, a pedestrian struck at 45 miles per hour – that’s a fatal crash. With this proposal, that pedestrian crash would likely be a low-speed one with minor injuries. This proposed rule would require all cars to be able to stop and avoid pedestrians at speeds up to 37 miles per hour. 

But the rule does even more. More than 70% of pedestrian fatalities occur at night. That’s why we’re proposing pedestrian AEB tests that ensure the technology can detect a pedestrian in the dark and stop accordingly. This proposal will require AEB systems to perform at night and will include nighttime testing. 

Many vehicles equipped with pedestrian AEB are unable to prevent crashes in low light, thus failing to reduce a large number of pedestrian fatalities. Our rule will directly address this problem, saving countless lives in doing so.

This proposal is a result of many years of NHTSA research on vehicle safety systems, and it also advances a mandate under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Public comment is a vital part of the rulemaking process. We use the comments we receive to refine and strengthen final rules and invite the public to weigh in on this proposed rule. Everyone is welcome to submit comments for the next 60 days, and we hope to hear from many members of the public, the safety community, manufacturers of safety technologies, and automakers.

It’s clear – AEB saves lives.

NHTSA and the USDOT are committed to embracing the safe system approach outlined in the National Roadway Safety Strategy to dramatically decrease the number and severity of crashes. Our policies will create safer roads, safer people, safer vehicles, safer speeds, and better post-crash care. 

This is a great day for traffic safety and for everyone who uses the roads, no matter if they drive, walk, bike, ride or roll.