40 Countries Agree - Automatic Braking Should Be Mandatory

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
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]

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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.

  • GrumpyOldMan The weather protection of a motorcycle plus the bulk of a car.
  • Kcflyer in a world where Miata doesn't exist this still seems like an expensive limited use choice
  • Verbal Crusher bait.
  • Rick T. When my wife was practicing law in Chicago back before our move to glorious TN about 10 years ago, several of her clients did quite well investing in parking spaces there.
  • Jkross22 This might just be me, but the times that I've driven an EV, I use the brake regen paddles to quell my inner MT/control freak nature.