NHTSA logoIn the last half century, vehicle safety technology and the laws that require such technology in cars have saved nearly 614,000 lives, writes Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on the DOT’s FastLane blog. These statistics come from a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Foxx writes.

NHTSA has announced that it now plans to add Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) to its Recommended Advanced Technology Features list in the New Car Assessment Program, Foxx writes. He explains that AEB is a “catchall” term for those systems that can detect whether a car is at risk of rear-ending another one. The systems use cameras and radar to determine if such a car accident looks likely, then automatically apply the brakes to prevent the accident, Foxx writes.

In its announcement, NHTSA said it will include two types of AEB systems in its 5-Star Safety Ratings (which measure vehicles’ crash-worthiness and rollover safety):

  • Crash Imminent Braking (CIB) applies the brakes in cases where a crash is imminent and the driver isn’t taking action.
  • Dynamic Brake Support (DBS) kicks in if a driver isn’t applying the brakes strongly enough to avoid a crash and supplements the driver’s braking input.

The New Car Assessment Program makes it easy for car shoppers to compare new cars based on advanced safety features that the program provides in a list, Foxx writes. He adds that because “foresight matters just as much as oversight,” he is grateful that automotive engineers continue to create new safety features, and he looks forward to the next life-saving one.

Damon Lavrinc reports for Jalopnik that, according to federal government data, one third of vehicle accidents reported to police in 2013 were rear-end collisions. In most of those accidents, the driver either did not apply the brakes at all or applied too little pressure. Lavrinc writes that although NHTSA has not said automatic braking would be mandated in all new vehicles, it is looking to add AEB to its revised New Car Assessment Program, which is essentially “a safety score card for new car buyers.” And that, Lavrinc writes, is a first step towards “a broader mandate,” similar to the way the agency has required air bags, ABS, and stability control in the past, and has more recently required back-up cameras on all news cars starting in 2018.

NHTSA has grouped automatic braking with other new technologies, such as vehicle-to-vehicle communications and autonomous driving features, Lavrinc writes. Those hold the promise to prevent even more crashes and save even more lives, says an NHTSA press release.

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