Automatic Braking to be Required on New Cars in 40 Countries

Members of a U.N. forum, which includes 40 countries, have decided all new cars must have automatic braking systems. This automated system can detect collisions and prevent many before they happen. Surprisingly, the U.S., India, and China didn’t join the other countries in the agreement.

What is automatic emergency braking?

When a pedestrian takes a sudden turn and steps off the curb, the car in front of you stops. So you immediately reach for the brake pedal to stop your car, too. But what happens if you don’t notice the pedestrian or other car? Or you’re simply not fast enough to respond? This is when automatic emergency braking (AEB) can save lives.

Automatic emergency braking uses sensors to prevent collisions. First, the system gives the driver a chance to respond by braking through an alert. If the driver doesn’t brake, the system automatically takes over and stops the car or slows it down.

There are two types of automatic braking systems: dynamic brake support (DBS) and crash imminent braking (CIB). DBS adds more force to a driver’s braking if it’s not enough to stop the car. CIB goes into effect if the driver does nothing, so the system responds automatically to brake.

Forty countries come together

In the U.S., automatic emergency braking technology has been available in some cars since 2006. However, it’s not mandatory in all new vehicles. The U.N. forum’s decision does make it a requirement in new cars, but the U.S., China, and India didn’t sign the agreement. These three countries want to make sure their national rules are a priority over U.N. regulations.

The new guidelines would affect new cars and light commercial vehicles in 40 countries, including Japan and the European Union, as early as 2020. All new vehicles must have automatic braking systems, but older ones can stay on the road without changing their technology. The automatic braking would only kick in at 60 kilometers per hour (42 mph) for safety reasons.

Although the U.S. doesn’t force car manufacturers to have automatic braking, in 2016, twenty companies decided to include the tech by 2022. So far, Tesla, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo have added automatic braking to many of their models. Other companies plan to offer it in the future. In many cases, the technology is offered as an optional feature in a safety package.

Benefits of automatic emergency braking

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shares that about a third of all car crashes are caused by rear-end collisions. Automatic braking can prevent many of these incidents by taking over when a driver can’t respond fast enough. The technology can either slow down or stop the car, so it avoids the crash completely or at least collides at a lower speed.

Automatic braking may reduce crashes and the number of people who are injured in them. It can improve safety on the road without adding a significant burden on the driver or other vehicles.

Automatic braking is a step toward fully self-driving cars. For now, the technology doesn’t eliminate the driver’s ability to take control, but this may change in the future. The NHTSA points out that fully autonomous cars and trucks will reduce accidents because 94% of current crashes happen because of human error. When self-driving cars become a reality, they will brake and do everything else for the driver.

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