New Delhi: In a reversal of Trump administration policies, U.S. auto safety regulators say they will impose or set standards for automatic emergency braking systems on new ones heavy trucks.
The Department of Transport, which includes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, announced the change on Friday when it released its spring regulatory schedule.
It will also demand what it says are rigorous testing standards for autonomous vehicles and create a national database to document automated vehicle crashes.
The actions taken by President Joe Biden’s administration run counter to the agency’s position under President Donald Trump. NHTSA had resisted regulation of automated vehicle systems, saying he did not want to stand in the way of potential developments that could save lives. Instead, it relied on voluntary safety plans from manufacturers.
NHTSA had proposed automatic emergency braking regulations in 2015 before Trump took office, but it was languishing in the regulatory process. The agency says it has researched the use of electronic systems and plans to publish a proposed rule in the Federal Register in April next year. When a regulation is published, it opens the door to public comment.
“We are pleased to see NHTSA finally take another step towards making large trucks safer by mandating AEB,” said Jason Levine, director of the Center for Auto Safety, who was among the groups that requested this requirement in 2015. “Unfortunately, at this rate, it will be years before the technology that could help stop the 5,000 truck crash fatalities on our roads is required,” he said in an email.
In 2016, the agency reached an agreement with 20 automakers representing 99% of new passenger vehicle sales in the United States to voluntarily make automatic emergency braking standard on all models by September 1, 2022.
The announcement of the requirements comes two days after four people died when a too fast milk tanker collided with seven-passenger vehicles on a Phoenix freeway. At least nine people were injured.
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates crashes and makes recommendations to prevent them from happening, said Thursday it would send a team of nine to investigate the Phoenix crash. The agency said it would examine whether automatic emergency braking in the truck mitigated or prevented the crash.
Since at least 2015, the NTSB has recommended that automatic emergency braking or collision alerts be standard on vehicles.
Currently, there are no federal requirements requiring semi-trailers to have forward collision warning or automatic emergency braking, although the systems are becoming common on small passenger vehicles.
The systems use cameras and sometimes radars to see objects in front of a vehicle, and they warn the driver or slow down and even stop the vehicle if it is about to hit something.