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Automatic Emergency Brake System For Heavy Trucks to be Required By Feds

06/22/2023 19:32

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have jointly proposed a new rule that mandates the integration of automatic emergency braking systems in heavy trucks.

The primary objective of this measure is to reduce the frequency and intensity of rear-end collisions. The proposed rule was issued on June 22, 2023, in response to the requests made by safety groups in 2015, and a congressional mandate under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Additionally, the proposal requires that all vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds have an electronic stability control system that works in unison with the AEB system. So basically, this automatic braking or brake mechanism requirement is so vital.

The Automatic Emergency Brake System Proposal Effectivity

The proposal would be effective within three to four years of the finalization of the rulemaking, depending on the stability control system deployment timeline. Moreover, the integrated electronic stability control system must meet specific equipment and operational capability requirements, as well as strict malfunction detection requirements.

As per the announcement, an AEB system utilizes a multitude of sensor technologies in tandem to detect an impending collision involving a vehicle. The proposed standard mandates that the system activation speed must operate effectively in low-speed (6 miles per hour) to high-speed (approximately 50 miles per hour) scenarios. So basically, speed reduction on the actual engine speed is in discussion to avoid any brake failure or brake fade. In the absence of truck driver intervention, the system automatically engages the brakes or provides additional braking force to supplement the driver's actions. This will surely lessen traffic accidents with this adequate brake function. It is actually more of an active safety protection from auto safety experts or auto safety regulators. 

The NHTSA Chief Counsel, Ann Carlson, opined that such advanced truck driver assistance systems hold the potential to save lives and the proposal, seeking public comment for 60 days, is a crucial step towards enhancing safety on the nation's roads by eradicating avoidable tragedies that cause harm to Americans. This emergency braking mode or autonomous emergency braking is life-saving.

What is the Stand of FMCSA Regarding the this Automatic Braking System

According to FMCSA Administrator Robin Hutcheson, the implementation of AEB standards is a crucial element of the Department's National Roadway Safety Strategy. This technology has the potential to significantly strengthen the effectiveness of commercial motor vehicle crash reduction strategies and ultimately decrease the number of roadway fatalities due to failed active braking. The American Trucking Associations expressed their support for this announcement, with ATA Vice President of Safety Policy Dan Horvath noting that AEB has been a longstanding priority for the industry.

With the recent regulation requiring AEB on all new passenger vehicles, the proposed requirement for heavy-duty trucks is both timely and appropriate. Of course, light trucks or light vehicles are also in discussion for sure. The trucking industry is fully committed to leveraging proven safety technology like automatic emergency braking, and we look forward to working with NHTSA and FMCSA as this proposal is implemented.

NHTSA's Stand Regarding this Automatic Brake System

As per data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there exist approximately 60,000 instances of rear-end collisions annually, wherein the heavy vehicle is the party responsible for the impact. After the implementation of the proposed regulations, the NHTSA anticipates that a total of 19,118 crashes will be prevented, 155 lives will be saved, and 8,814 injuries will be averted on a yearly basis.

To achieve this end, the NHTSA has put forth a two-tiered phase-in schedule aimed at ensuring compliance with the aforementioned standards. For vehicles that are currently subject to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 136, which deals with "Electronic Stability Control Systems for Heavy Vehicles," the proposed regulations mandate that any vehicle manufactured on or after September 1st of the third year following the publication of the final rule must meet the heavy vehicle Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) standard.

As per the 254-page proposed rule, vehicles that are not currently subject to FMVSS No. 136 would be mandated to adhere to the proposed AEB requirements and ESC amendments if manufactured on or after the first September 1 falls four years after the final rule's publication. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has conducted extensive research to examine the efficacy of collision mitigation technologies, including AEB, in enhancing drivers' experiences. The NHTSA is of the opinion that AEB can effectively reduce the severity of rear-end collisions in various real-world scenarios.

The proposal stated that the data analysis uncovered some instances of rear-end crashes where the agency was uncertain about the extent to which AEB systems could reduce the severity of the accidents. The uncertainty arose due to significant events or other conditions leading up to the crash. For instance, if the data indicated that a heavy vehicle had changed lanes just before colliding with a vehicle in front, there may not have been sufficient time or space for the AEB system to identify and track the vehicle accurately and apply brakes in time to prevent the crash.

In a 2016 study, the NHTSA found that crash avoidance systems could effectively prevent collisions. There was minimal frustration among drivers regarding AEB activations, and driver performance and behavior showed negligible changes over time.

The National Transportation Safety Board has included AEB for commercial vehicles in its “Most Wanted List” for 2021-2023.

In Conclusion Regarding the Automatic Braking System

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recommended that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finalize the standards for Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) in commercial vehicles and mandate the installation of this technology in all newly manufactured school buses and highway vehicles. Various safety groups, such as the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, have voiced their support for this proposal. The group believes that equipping all trucks with AEB is crucial to saving lives, particularly in areas where children are present.

The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) also backs the use of on-board technologies that enhance vehicle safety and driver performance and is in favor of this aforementioned rule. David Heller, the TCA’s Senior Vice President of Safety and Government Affairs, states that this development is something that they have long anticipated.

We hope this article helps and gives you more knowledge about this automatic braking system.

Moreover, we advocate for your safety. If you need support with DOT and FMCSA compliance, feel free to reach out to us at Labworks USA. 

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