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