40 Countries Agree - Automatic Braking Should Be Mandatory

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
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40 countries agree automatic braking should be mandatory

Forty countries, led by Japan and the European Union, have agreed to require passenger cars and light commercial vehicles to come equipped with automated braking systems starting as soon as 2020.

According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the new regulation will become compulsory for all countries that adopt it during an upcoming June session. However, the measure will only apply to vehicles operating at “low speeds,” which the U.N. claims is anything under 42 mph.

A odd decision, considering these systems function more predictably on expressways, though UNECE noted that 40 percent of Europe’s urban traffic fatalities involve pedestrians. It’s keen to get that number down.

“It activates the brake to stop a crash and that’s it … It will not drive, it will brake,” UNECE spokesman Jean Rodriguez reportedly said during a media briefing. According to Reuters, he also added that there will be no obligation to retrofit older vehicles — which we assumed went without saying.

While the United States could adopt the new regulations, the freedom-loving country’s own rules will likely take precedence. The Western nation, along with major global players like India and China, did not take part in formal negotiations and are not bound by the original 1958 agreement the latest regulation builds upon.

However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is a major proponent of automatic emergency braking and it’s almost unimaginable to think that automakers won’t outfit their vehicles for the global market. Most vehicles sold within the U.S. will likely adhere to the world standard long before the NHTSA gets around to making rules about it. Manufacturers are already heading in that direction by making advanced safety suites standard equipment; in 2016, 10 automakers forged a pact to make AEB standard on all cars by 2022.

Our opinions on the matter are mixed. Automatic emergency braking is no less than a blessing for helping hapless and inattentive drivers avoid placing themselves and others in harm’s way. But we’re not so thrilled about it being ubiquitous. If you’ve ever been in a vehicle when the safety system activates needlessly, you know exactly why. It’s terrifying and makes you immeasurably distrustful of a feature that’s supposed to save your life. That’s not a problem if you can shut the system down, but what if the regulatory rules stipulate you can’t — or you’re a regular person who doesn’t know how?

The Economic Commission for Europe may not be particularly interested in sorting that out. It claims that by imposing automatic emergency braking on all vehicles, it could effectively reduce annual roadway fatalities by around 38 percent — saving roughly 1,000 people every year in Europe alone. In the meantime, the U.N. is calling for more countries to join and plans to establish formal rules later this year.

[Image: ambrozinio/Shutterstock]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

Consumer advocate tracking industry trends, regulation, and the bitter-sweet nature of modern automotive tech. Research focused and gut driven.

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  • Boxerman Boxerman on Feb 18, 2019

    Realistically the advent of these safety systems has led to a decline in driver co cent ration and ability. To a certain extent the systems compensate so overall fatalities may have gone down, some of that also due to physically safer cars. As a motorcycle rider I think auto braking is great, stops the dim bulbs from driving into you. But as a driver we already have such numb and delayed response cars, this system is just another removing the driver from focusing or for that matter from responsibility. Where at a dangerous intersection where driver concentration and ability is dropping percipetously while we rely on the systems. To fill in the gaps. Also by definition these systems wont work with a manual.

  • Garak Garak on Feb 19, 2019

    Automatic braking could be helpful in theory, but I hate these systems that take control away from you. ABS increases stopping distances a lot in the winter, Traction control leaves you stranded in deep snow or slush if you can't turn it off, and I once nearly crashed after hill assist locked the front wheels while I was reversing down an icy slope. Sure, they're helpful systems most of the time, but when they misbehave you feel like a killer robot's taken you prisoner. I'm afraid to think all the ways automatic braking would try to kill me.

  • Ernesto Perez There's a line in the movie Armageddon where Bruce Willis says " is this the best idea NASA came up with?". Don't quote me. I'm asking is this the best idea NY came up with? What's next? Charging pedestrians to walk in certain parts of the city? Every year the price for everything gets more expensive and most of the services we pay for gets worse. Obviously more money is not the solution. What we need are better ideas, strategies and inventions. You want to charge drivers in the city - then put tolls on the free bridges like the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges. There's always a better way or product. It's just the idiots on top think they know best.
  • Carsofchaos The bike lanes aren't even close to carrying "more than the car lanes replaced". You clearly don't drive in Midtown Manhattan on a daily like I do.
  • Carsofchaos The problem with congestion, dear friends, is not the cars per se. I drive into the city daily and the problem is this:Your average street in the area used to be 4 lanes. Now it is a bus lane, a bike lane (now you're down to two lanes), then you have delivery trucks double parking, along with the Uber and Lyft drivers also double parking. So your 4 lane avenue is now a 1.5 lane avenue. Do you now see the problem? Congestion pricing will fix none of these things....what it WILL do is fund persion plans.
  • FreedMike Many F150s I encounter are autonomously driven...and by that I mean they're driving themselves because the dips**ts at the wheel are paying attention to everything else but the road.
  • Tassos A "small car", TIM????????????This is the GLE. Have you even ever SEEN the huge thing at a dealer's??? NOT even the GLC,and Merc has TWO classes even SMALLER than the C (The A and the B, you guessed it? You must be a GENIUS!).THe E is a "MIDSIZED" crossover, NOT A SMALL ONE BY ANY STRETCH OF THE IMAGINATION, oh CLUELESS one.I AM SICK AND TIRED OF THE NONSENSE you post here every god damned day.And I BET you will never even CORRECT your NONSENSE, much less APOLOGIZE for your cluelessness and unprofessionalism.