All new US cars must carry automatic brakes by 2029

Starting in 2029, a new federal safety regulation will require all new cars and trucks in the U.S. to be sold with automatic emergency braking — sensors that apply the brakes to prevent the driver from crashing.

The new rule, finalized Monday, imposes more stringent requirements than the automatic emergency braking technology now sold in most vehicles, and goes well beyond the point of current technical feasibility, automakers said. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has set a September 2029 date for compliance, saying it hopes systems will be ready by then.

Under the standards, a 317 page document, all “light vehicles,” including cars, large pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles, must brake automatically to avoid hitting another vehicle at speeds up to 62 mph. If a collision is imminent, the system should begin applying the brakes at a speed of at least 90 mph. This exceeds the maximum US speed limit of 85 mph, and the system must also detect pedestrians.

The rules are necessary because traffic deaths have climbed steadily in recent years, Biden administration officials have argued. “The new vehicle safety standards we finalized today will save hundreds of lives and prevent tens of thousands of injuries each year,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.

An estimated 41,000 people will be killed in automobile accidents in the United States by 2023.

Automatic braking systems are a relatively new feature, and regulators and car makers agree they've already helped save lives. Introduced in 2011, they typically use cameras, radar or both to identify other vehicles, pedestrians or obstacles in front of the car.

They usually warn the driver if a collision is possible, forcing them to apply the brakes if necessary.

In 2016, automakers said they needed no incentive to follow the systems, pointing to their voluntary agreement to build the technology standard on all new cars and trucks. 90 percent of new vehicles on sale now have some form of automatic emergency braking.

Regulators said carmakers on Monday expressed concern about “taking away the driver's power” at high speeds.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, the industry's main lobbying group, said the regulators “viewed the prospect that manufacturers could not provide an indefinite amount of avoidance at all speeds as practicable or reasonable.”

The Biden administration estimated the cost of the rule at an average of $23 per vehicle.

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