Comment period opens for automatic emergency braking mandate proposal

Emergency braking event leads to tire skid

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are now accepting comments on a proposal that, if finalized, would mandate automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems on trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 lb.

The notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) published Thursday is open to public comment for 60 days through Sept. 5. Comments to NHTSA can be made here, while comments to FMCSA can be made here.

The NPRM responds to a mandate under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law directing the Department of Transportation to enact a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) that requires heavy commercial vehicles with FMVSS-required electronic stability control systems to be equipped with an AEB system, and also promotes DOT’s January 2022 National Roadway Safety Strategy to initiate a rulemaking to require AEB on heavy trucks.

The notice also proposes Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) requiring the electronic stability control and AEB systems to be on during vehicle operation. 

“Considering the effectiveness of AEB and electronic stability control technology (ESC) at avoiding these crashes, the proposed rule would conservatively prevent an estimated 19,118 crashes, save 155 lives, and reduce 8,814 non-fatal injuries annually once all vehicles covered in this rule are equipped with AEB and ESC,” the agencies said in the NPRM. “In addition, it would eliminate 24,828 property-damage-only crashes annually.”

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The proposed requirements also include two tests to ensure that the AEB system does not inappropriately activate when no collision is actually imminent. These false positive tests provide some assurance that an AEB system is capable of differentiating between an actual imminent collision and a non-threat, the agencies said. While the tests are not comprehensive, they establish a minimum performance for non-activation of AEB systems.

This proposal would require that all of the NHTSA AEB requirements be phased in within four years of publication of a final rule.  Trucks and certain large buses with a GVWR of greater than 26,000 pounds that are currently subject to FMVSS No. 136 would be required to meet all requirements within three years. Vehicles not currently subject to FMVSS No. 136 would be required to have ESC and AEB systems within four years of publication of a final rule.

FMCSA’s proposed rule is intended to ensure that commercial motor vehicles equipped with the ESC and AEB systems mandated by NHTSA are maintained and operated safely.

NHTSA and FMCSA also jointly determined not to propose AEB retrofitting requirements for existing heavy vehicles or ESC retrofitting for vehicles not currently subject to FMVSS No. 136. “For technical reasons, AEB and ESC retrofits are difficult to apply broadly, generically or inexpensively and thus this NPRM does not propose a retrofit requirement,” the agencies said.

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