By on January 23, 2015

U.S. Department of Transportation Carousel

Thursday, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced it would add two forms of automatic emergency braking as recommended systems for its New Car Assessment Program.

The Detroit News reports crash imminent braking and dynamic brake support will be included as safety feature recommendations for the program’s five-star rating system, though automakers won’t be mandated to have them on all of their new models. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx encouraged them to consider doing so, however:

Today marks an enormous leap in the evolution of auto safety by encouraging adoption of new technologies to keep drivers and their passengers safe on our roads. Making it very clear that the technology will be one of the criteria on which auto manufacturers are graded is a pretty big step. They all want to be a five-star company.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had considered making automatic braking mandatory, setting a deadline of the end of 2013 to decide whether to press forward or to include it in the program. Administrator Mark Rosekind says the agency is still looking over the subject, while Foxx added that he wouldn’t put the idea completely on the shelf down the road.

The new recommendations will come into force 60 days after the public has had a chance to comment, followed by responses from the NHTSA. The 16-page proposal details the testing parameters automakers would need to pass before being listed as having automatic braking.

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36 Comments on “US Transportation Department Recommends Automatic Braking For NCAP...”

  • avatar

    Don’t you mean “a deadline before the end of 2015”?

    I don’t think automatic braking systems should be mandatory. While it certainly would reduce a lot of rear-end accidents, how many of those accidents involve a serious injury or fatality?

    That said, the technology to implement said systems isn’t really that expensive any more. A few bucks for sensors in the front bumper, and you are ready to rock. (The car already has a computer that can probably handle the work, and and ABS system to do the stopping.)

    • 0 avatar

      End of 2013 could be correct, I didn’t even blink at that. Being only 13 months late, I wouldn’t automatically consider it to be an aberration.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s more than a few bucks — ultrasonic sensors won’t cut it. You’ll need to switch to radar or laser. Figure on closer to $1000 at today’s prices.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s still not cost prohibitive, for the truly safety minded.

        My wife has probably spent that on car seats for the kids, and along with hundreds of hours researching the matter. Obsessive? yes. Bringing up interesting (if occasionally gristly) engineering and physics problems, in an effort to keep children safe? Also a yes.

        I still miss my motorcycle and keep thinking about taking up skydiving in addition to my other aviation a related pursuits. But, yeah, I’d pay that $1000 where the wife and kids are concerned for just that little bit of incremental safety. Let’s spend our cumulative lifetime risk exposure an something more remarkable than the morning commute to preschool – like sailplane aerobatics!

        • 0 avatar

          I encourage you to spend your own money in whatever way makes you happy. But we’re talking about mandating how everyone else spends their money, which is an entirely different thing.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    I can’t believe that they are thinking of making radar systems mandatory when they are too chickens–t to mandate amber rear turn signals. Amber turn signals are proven to reduce accidents and save lives, and the extra cost is immaterial (US manufacturers already use them in other markets).

    • 0 avatar

      I hate red turn signals, and I especially hate brake lights that double as turn signals. Do you have any more information about the advantages of amber signals? I’m interested to read more.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        Here’s a short quote:

        “In 2008, NHTSA released tentative findings that amber turn signals are up to 28% more effective at avoiding crashes than red ones. Then, in 2009, they released preliminary findings that across all situations, including those in which turn signals don’t matter, vehicles with amber rear turn signals are 5.3% less likely to be hit from behind than otherwise-identical vehicles with red ones.”

        Write your local representative and let them know how you feel.

    • 0 avatar

      I think there may be an argument for amber rear turn signals being more dangerous and increasing the chance of really bad accidents. At night or in poorly lit conditions, a blinking red in the US lets us know that we are seeing the back of a car,and a blinking amber tells us we are seeing the front of a car. That is important information.

  • avatar

    A desperate move to save people from distracted driving? Make short range cell phone jammers mandatory in passenger vehicles, if you want people to pay attention to braking.

    • 0 avatar

      Why not just point a gun at them? Studies show that people pay real close attention when a gun is pointed in their direction

      • 0 avatar

        Mad Max style, or typical Los Angeles? I hear the traffic is terrible there.

      • 0 avatar

        Wasn’t it Milton Friedman who said the most effective automotive safety device would be a sharp stick in the steering wheel, aimed directly at the driver’s heart?

        Apparently Takata’s on board with that…

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          He’s my hero, and that idea is awesome.

          On an unrelated note, there would be fewer concussions in US football if the players were forced to wear old-school leather helmets.

          • 0 avatar

            Football players were also more likely to die during the leather helmet era although speculation into what, if any, relationship exists b/w headgear and deaths is just that.

            Risk homeostasis is a real thing. The additional driver aids are analogous in many ways to automated systems in aviation. In aviation, these systems combined with highly trained pilots, crew, ATC, etc…result in an extraordinarily safe and efficient system overall. However, sometimes the automation does something unexpected or the pilots don’t *quite* understand what’s happening and disaster results. See Colgan 3407 or Air France 447, for examples.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            The reason (American) football players wear helmets and pads is because of how often players were killed without them. There was a huge public outcry at the beginning of the 1900s over it, and calls to outlaw the game altogether. The President even got involved.


  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    IIHS started testing front crash prevention a year or two ago, and now gives a Top Safety Pick + rating to those found effective. Some systems were more effective than others, such as being able to prevent a 25mph crash.

    Subaru’s Eyesight propelled all their vehicles to the top of this year’s rankings, the lowest MRSP thus equipped is $26k. Anyone hear of an insurance discount?

  • avatar

    Look, I’m all for driver’s aides, and for making driving a car easier and safer. I think complaints about traction and stability control are overblown, and I am a big fan of automatic transmissions. I’ll even begrudgingly accept the rear-view camera requirement.

    But when a driver is no longer expected to be able to stop the car themselves, the solution is not technology – it’s taking away licensing.


    • 0 avatar

      It’s like with ABS.

      I personally don’t need ABS (I’ve owned several cars without it), but I’m real happy that most other drivers have it!

      I will really appreciate it when tailgating jerks behind me will have automatic braking.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Here’s what happened to Car and Driver’s long-term Kia K900, which is an otherwise excellent car:

    “At approximately 11,400 miles, the adaptive cruise control falsely identified a vehicle ahead and threw the K900 into a full panic stop on I-90 in southeastern Montana. A scary event. Could a giant bug have splattered on the radar’s lens? So far, we all have theories but no hard data.”

    Imagine having that happen with your government-mandated automatic braking system – no thanks!

    • 0 avatar

      That said, how many people plow into people in front of them with gleeful abandon because they’re reading/texting/eating/talking/putting on makeup/soothing a kid/engaged in conjugal relations/etc?

      I’ll take the computer, thanks.

  • avatar

    At what cost? $20,000 cars already cost $50,000. No wonder I’ll never afford a new car.

    • 0 avatar

      You sound like a highschool kid or someone in mom’s basement. Unless a loaded BMW 5 series is your minimum, there are plenty of cars under $50K. Even way under $20K.

  • avatar

    Yay, more crap that will keep me driving older cars for as long as they are available.

    Predicting an enterprising guy will start a business removing all the nannyisms. He’ll start with a giant centrifuge to remove ethanol from fuel. Engine for centrifuge will be powered by removed ethanol.

  • avatar

    Remember the Range Rover driver in New York who ran over the motorcycle driver who break checked him? Automatic emergency breaking will put you at the mercy of anyone who cuts in front of you.

  • avatar

    Yep, the technology is already here, in the form of adaptive cruise control and traction control (the kind that brakes individual wheels).

    Aaaaand speaking of adaptive cruise control, it is REALLY F’ING IRRITATING when someone has this and they’re obviously paying only half-attention to their highway driving:

    -they pass you (fine)
    -up ahead they get stuck behind some (other) dimwit with crappy lane discipline
    -they change to a slow lane to get around the fast lane dimwit
    -then continuing in that lane they move along (fine) until catching up to slower traffic (fine
    -but then they just linger behind that slow traffic long (fine, except for what follows) long enough for you, using regular cruise control, to gradually catch up and eventually drive past
    -then they wake up, move over, speed up (adaptive cruise control radar sees a clear lane now), catch up to you
    -you move over (because the law and common courtesy says to do that)
    -but they’re going juuuuust barely faster than you so that they are next to you when you come up behind slower traffic in the right lane (usually a tractor-semitrailer) and are right next to you when it’s the last moment for you to change lanes or turn off your cruise control

    Long distance drivers, among the TTAC B&B, will know EXACTLY what I am talking about.

    • 0 avatar

      Dude. On multi-lane roads, if someone in the passing lane is going to run me into the back of the vehicle in front of me I accelerate and change lanes in front of them so that I’m not the guy that gets stuck.

      How is someone barely paying attention to ACC worse than someone who allows themselves to be run into the back of slower traffic in front of them. You’re both guilty of the same thing – poor speed management.

      Traffic is a dynamic system, efficient driving requires planning and both positive and negative acceleration.

      • 0 avatar

        @319583076, fair enough. Thing is, when I have *my* cruise control set, I hate the guy who cuts in front of left lane traffic and then slows down. So if I have moved to the right for someone who is faster than me, I’d like to let them past and on their merry way, never to be seen again. If I suddenly accelerate to cut in front then sometimes I’m going to be “that guy” who slows down so I’d rather let them by. Granted, sometimes I misjudge the timing but life goes on.

        Now, though, the inattentive ones who use adaptive cruise control, they don’t actually go on their merry way- they usually move back over about a mile ahead and let themselves get slowed down in slower traffic. I end up catching up to them, and usually after that they wake up and decide they want to go fast again… and again…

  • avatar

    You want the features, then buy it with your own money.

    Getting really tired of mandated anything from the government…. Especially when it comes with a dose of “we know what’s best for you”.

    Same with the rear camera mandate. Enough.

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