All new cars will soon have this safety feature

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The NHTSA rule also sets an improve performance standard for existing systems

Many new cars come equipped with automatic emergency braking to avoid accidents. Pretty soon, all new cars will have the safety feature.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued its final rule ordering all new vehicles have automatic emergency braking within five years, saying it will be its most significant safety requirement in 20 years.

“Over the last decade, car accident fatalities have risen considerably, and automated braking technology has the potential to help reverse that trend, especially with the performance requirements in this new mandate,” said ConsumerAffairs Automotive Editor Vincent Landino.

Landino cited a ConsumerAffairs study of auto accidents that showed about 19% of fatal accidents involve pedestrians.

The system works by using sensors, such as cameras and radar. When the sensors detect a possible collision, with a car, a pedestrian or inanimate object it applies the brakes.

That doesn’t guarantee you will avoid a collision but advocates say it greatly reduces the risk. It will also slow the vehicle so that if there is a collision, it will be at slower speeds.

There are some doubters

However, not everyone is sold on the current technology. In a 2022 study, AAA tested the system at higher speeds and found it left something to be desired.

“Automatic emergency braking does well at tackling the limited task it was designed to do. Unfortunately, that task was drawn up years ago, and regulator’s slow-speed crash standards haven’t evolved,” Greg Brannon, director of AAA’s automotive engineering and industry relations, said at the time. 

“Testing requirements for this technology, or any vehicle safety system for that matter, must be updated to handle faster, more realistic speeds and scenarios with the greatest safety benefit for drivers.”

Improvements are likely in the works. About 90% of new vehicles are equipped with the technology but so far, there are no performance requirements. The new NHTSA rule will set standards all systems will have to meet. 

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