By on February 15, 2019

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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55 Comments on “40 Countries Agree – Automatic Braking Should Be Mandatory...”


  • avatar
    JimC2

    Automatic braking would certainly make it a lot easier and more fun to wake up left lane slowpokes who refuse to move over! (I mean once you get around them.) Not just four wheel left lane slowpokes, the ones with 18 wheels and everyone else in between. Mwuahahahaha!!

    I’m not advocating brake-checking people, just getting in front of them letting off the gas and coasting for a moment. That and hosing them off with my windshield washers.

    I’d like to advocate EMP devices too, but I admit that is pushing it a bit much.

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      When I was a baby, my mom had a blue two-tone Chevrolet Malibu Classic wagon- the one with the disgusting rear spoiler.

      It had a bumper sticker on it which read:

      “I may be slow, but I’m ahead of you!”

      Also, it had one on it where my Dad’s cousin ran for congress or a senate seat or something. To my young mind it was amazing to have a *real* sticker with my name on it— it would have been about 1984-1987, so professional printing was still for professionals.

      I mean, our Tandy ColorComputer 2 had that modem where you would sit the telephone on it.

      Omg now I’m thinking about the ubiquitous 1980s banner we all made where we would leave the little strips on the printouts and just hang them sideways. Man.

      Brighter dark days.

      Don’t be rushing the people in front of you, man. Its not nice.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Nobody will rush them if they drive where they belong – in the far right lane. The law of speed limits does not take priority of the law of keeping right. Don’t willfully hold up traffic because you want to stay in the left lane. It’s not nice, and it is illegal.

        • 0 avatar
          iNeon

          What you’ve written is that one right (the right to unobstructed left lane access) is supported by law and supersedes(?) the right to peaceable safe travel?

          Your car can not physically occupy the space another car is currently occupying. It isn’t possible! This is physics lol

          The best part tho is when y’all make *that* scene about this right to speed faster– and then rush around to assert– only to be stopped by the same stoplight a half mile away!

          I blow kisses then go back to singing along with my Linda Ronstadt :D

          Current Track: ‘It Doesn’t Matter Anymore’

  • avatar
    Urlik

    The cost of a minor front end collision is going up $2K to replace and calibrate a nanny for bad drivers.

    • 0 avatar
      Lockstops

      …except that the cheap systems are camera-based, and those cameras are in that module where the rear view mirror is attached.

      So yes, costs might go up a bit, maybe $50-$200 when you replace your windshield. But not more, and not at all for minor front end collisions.

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        My shops have all been fleets of big trucks with these systems. They’re robust but fiddly and add so much cost to any bumper repairs.

        The laser sensors have to be recalibrated, cameras rehung with new brackets and all of it has to be aimed and relearned with the main computers. My experience is in Peterbilt and Kenworth. These systems keep the shops busy, but I bet before my time with it– the bumper work was just as common and expensive.

        I can imagine inspection states that disallow chipped/cracked windshields hitting every individual in that situation with this cost, and it shouldn’t have to be an expense. If I were in an inspection state, I’d have had this cost yearly my cars have had so many stone chips and cracks. My current Jeep got it’s first stone chip in the windshield before it was 6 months old.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    NWO [email protected]##i#& coming

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    Next: 120 month financing to pay for all the safety nannies.

    • 0 avatar
      JDG1980

      Right, because who could afford a base-model Toyota without a 10-year loan?

      Seriously, look at their feature sets – they’ve already got this stuff across the board on most models, even for the bottom-of-the-barrel trim. Honda is nearly as good, they usually put the suite of automatic safety features on everything but the worst trim.

      It’s really just the U.S. manufacturers who think that automatic braking, ACC, and so forth should be premium features that cost thousands of dollars extra.

  • avatar

    It is will be the new contention point between rats and pubs.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    Sounds like this UNECE needs those 1000 people killed per year to stay alive and pay their taxes so that they can keep funding silly ‘think’ tanks like the UNECE. Over $1,000,000/year to have meetings about nothing. Good work.

  • avatar
    nvinen

    I’ve had auto braking engage and bring me to a screeching halt when I was in no danger of a collision. It was really annoying. Lucky I didn’t get rear ended as a result.

    I’ve also had it brake while I was accelerating. The engine and brakes were fighting. Again no risk of collision. Different brand car too.

    How about making it work properly before making it mandatory?

    • 0 avatar
      smartascii

      On top of that, both cars I’ve owned with that feature have trouble determining that a car that *was* in your path has moved, like a car turning into a shopping center, or one that’s moved out of your lane. Lots of hysterical flashing and braking for nothing. I guess it’s a good brake check, but otherwise pretty annoying.

      • 0 avatar
        Lockstops

        My experiences with BMW’s cheap-o system which is only camera based (in the i3 for example, most other models also use radar and are a different system) were good, never any false braking. That system’s ‘radar cruise’ function was annoying, but the emergency braking system was pretty much flawless.

        Volvo XC90 T8 was horrible, erroneous panic-braking happened often, even on the motorway it was triggered from cars on the next lane!

        With Mercedes’ proper system which includes radar and stereo camera (not even the newest gen that just came out) it has worked perfectly, sometimes it has warned in correct situations where I have switched lanes in a way that it was ok for the system to think there might be reason to warn, but since I was in control and was making a deliberate move it never came to the point where an impact was imminent and therefore the car never had to do emergency braking. Snow (lots and lots of it), sleet, spray, glare…never any errors in the system.

  • avatar
    James Charles

    As people irresponsibly use the multitude of infotainment and inparticular cellphones this is a great idea.

    The UNECE is making the correct call. This will align the UNECE signatories maintaining easier global vehicle trade

  • avatar
    James Charles

    As people irresponsibly use the multitude of infotainment and inparticular cellphones this is a great idea.

    The UNECE is making the correct call. This will align the UNECE signatories maintaining easier global vehicle trade

    • 0 avatar
      redgolf

      that’s right, distracted driving, too much of it going on and not just cell phones/infotainment, a few weeks ago 3 of my friends where riding in an 07 Saturn Vue with me in the back seat when the driver started looking over at the heat/air controls when stopped for a red light was a beautiful black Mercedes, we hadn’t stopped yet and the driver wasn’t paying attention when I yelled out STOP! He hit his brakes and swerved into the next lane avoiding a rear end collision, thank you, thank you he replied, you are welcome, your car my life!Another time back in 67 a buddy was driving his beautiful 66 Ford Torino, again 4 of us with me in the backseat when the driver kept turning around to speak not seeing that the traffic ahead was stopped, again I yelled out STOP, he came to a screeching stop, thank you, thank you, he replied! My life, your welcome! AB very much needed.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Having been the “victim” of needless AEB applications, I have mixed feelings. Sure, anybody who is inattentive at a given moment can have their butt saved, and let’s face it – we all have been at one moment or another. But there are times the system engages when it should not which creates a different hazard.

    Want to arrest the increase in fatalities? Three simple things. One, bring back controls that are intuitive instead of the layered menus for simple tasks. Two, bring back visibility as a priority. Seeing out of a car is more important than swoopy styling. Three, disable mobile texting.

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      A significant contributor to the visibility problem is the higher standard for roof strength to protect passengers during rollover accidents. The A pillars are thick enough to hide an automobile at an intersection. The standard trades the risk of being crushed in a rollover for the risk of being T-boned at an intersection.

    • 0 avatar
      multicam

      Is there a way to disable mobile texting without punishing the passengers who aren’t driving?

      Maybe make phones that only allow you to text if the car senses a second person in it? Then you’ll see people with a heavy object in the passenger seat and the seat belt buckled to fool the sensors.

      I’m definitely against this… not that I text while driving, I just don’t want my car and phone communicating with each other at all. If it comes down to it I’ll just find a jailbreak tweak that overrides it.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I do share the same privacy concerns and am not advocating such a system. But look at how some European countries deal with DWI. Extreme penalties. Human nature being what it is, if an action – however hazardous – has a very low likelihood of getting caught, the only way to deal with that is to have penalties so severe that the fear of getting caught outweighs the risk. Perhaps texting violations should carry a year license revocation and a 5 year stint in assigned risk.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      “Sure, anybody who is inattentive at a given moment can have their butt saved, and let’s face it – we all have been at one moment or another.”

      I know plenty of people who have never driven a car with automatic braking who have never had an accident. Don’t assume everyone is like you in needing bureaucrats to save them.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        Mr. F1,
        just about every who drive has had to do an emergency braking stop a time or two. When those close calls turn into accidents,determining the number and rates of accidents is left to professionals called actuaries. It’s not some faceless bureaucrat you feebly attempt to bleat about but actuaries at insurance companies who really, really like safety devices. Yet, there are some on here who claim they their “superior driving abilities” are better than any ABS system.

        • 0 avatar
          iNeon

          elScotto: you mean everyone can’t threshold brake?!?

          When I could get it right in my old non-ABS cars, it did seem to stop the cars better– but computer ABS is more reliable. I have that now.

          Its always a story, but: Once I tried to beat a ticket by explaining friction modulation to a judge. Normal people don’t understand that stuff and it was explained to me thusly: “You’ll pay this $500 fine and you’ll never make your car roar, but control that power with a pedal and skill/knowledge again”

          So, you’re right. Average drivers don’t have accidents when they’re driving deliberately prickish– its when they have a lapse in attention. We need these systems, but they could be smarter.

          They could also come on manual cars to preserve the species– but in the North American market, I couldn’t find the technology available in a 2018 American domestic. Reserved for automatics and midlevel trims.

          My kingdom for a well-trimmed manual grown-up’s car. I keep trying! 38 years-old, and I’m driving an orange Jeep to keep a stickshift. Sat on the lot almost a year before I took her home.

          #PSL4LYFE #ORATLEASTASLONGASANFCABASEDJEEPCANLAST

          • 0 avatar
            Tele Vision

            @iNeon

            Get a Gen I CTS-V like I did. 400 HP, manual, four-door sleeper. They all came loaded with but four options: interior colour; exterior colour, sunroof delete, and the factory suspension upgrade that no one bought. The only real giveaways are the Corvette wheels and Brembo brakes on 14″ rotors. Best brakes I’ve ever owned. Two years ago I panic-stopped for a mulie in the middle of the highway one morning. I came to a halt about 60′ from the imbecilic thing. Had I been in my truck that dark morning I would have messily disassembled said deer – or, at the very least, damaged my truck. The seatbelt hurt my shoulder but that was a small price to pay.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          ABS wasn’t even a net positive for the insurers. It allowed people to get their cars turned before crashing in many situations, which caused far more damage and harm than using crumple zones and air bags by sliding in nose first. Stability control is the driver aid that actually helps insurers, as it creates understeer and forces you into hitting things at the angle the cars safety features have been designed to be most effective. I learned this talking to IIHS folks at a party, a group harder to get talking about their jobs than members of the IRS and EPA. They also said that they advocate for many technologies for reasons that aren’t supported by any numbers that aren’t on suppliers’ rather than insurers’ balance sheets after a few drinks.

          I loved the ABS on one of my cars. It could only be tripped up by wet leaves, which still constituted a major annoyance where I lived at the time. Other cars’ ABS systems can be thrown off for what feels like whole seconds by vertical wheel motions as you’re coming to a stop, adding car lengths to stopping distances that should consist of one car length. Oddly, I’ve encountered this more on new cars than ones from when ABS was a premium feature thirty years ago.

  • avatar
    xtoyota

    How about a system that cell phones won’t work in a car except when the engine is SHUT OFF.
    That will solve more problems than auto braking

    • 0 avatar
      EGSE

      And you propose to do that…..how?

      • 0 avatar
        strafer

        It could be programmed into the cell phone OS to disable when phone GPS detects speed greater than running speed.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          @strafer: So, you just turn off the GPS. Also, what if you’re a passenger? Or, even worse, a passenger on a train or bus?

        • 0 avatar
          EGSE

          First, GPS has to be turned on; I leave it off so Google can’t track my whereabouts. Additionally, GPS takes time to download the almanac from the satellites without which it can’t function; this can take several minutes depending on RF propagation conditions. Also, there’s no assurance that enough satellites will have a sufficient link margin to operate reliably; this can cause the GPS chipset to assume it’s not moving. Heavy foliage overhead or driving through urban high-rise canyons greatly affects GPS RF performance, both in signal attenuation and number of sats being visible. This condition is especially relevant to cellphones because the small patch antennas they use are inefficient and are adversely affected by hand position, made even worse being located in a metal cage with poor visibility to the sat constellation. Finally, assuming none of the above are issues, passengers won’t be able to use their phones either. The cellular carriers who will balk at having the resolution of the problem being pushed onto their shoulders will fire up their lobbyists and no amount of “what about the children” will dissuade their legislative efforts.

          I dealt with the technical issues as an engineer working on military and law enforcement systems. The problems are not trivial. Using more efficient outside antennas dedicated to GPS reception was mandatory to obtain acceptable uptime. That’s why you see them mounted on the roofs of cars with sat-nav built in.

          Greater gains overall can be made by reinstating buttons and knobs for common functions such as climate control and radio/entertainment systems. Touchscreens are an ergonomic nightmare that compete for drivers attention which should be focused on driving the car.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            @EGSE: Phone to infotainment pairing needs to be improved too. How often do you see someone with a phone in their hands in a car you know for sure has bluetooth. I’d like to see USB connectivity. You’re charging the thing anyway through USB. Why not handle the data connection as well?

          • 0 avatar
            el scotto

            Mr. EGSE,
            I understand that OnStar still tracks your vehicle even when you don’t subscribe to the service. A friend of mine wrecked his truck and was awakened by a nice lady from OnStar. Any truth to this? Thanks in advance.

          • 0 avatar
            EGSE

            @el scotto: No button to reply directly….hope this gets to you.

            I never worked with an OnStar subscriber unit specifically. I did find an article from 2011 that claims they do what you alluded to:
            https://www.wired.com/2011/09/onstar-tracks-you/

            I have no knowledge of their present policies. If you’re concerned about tracking or it being accessed without your consent, disconnecting it is a sure way to disable it. A web search should prove fruitful. It is a commercial cellphone for the purposes of this discussion.

            This article has information you may find relevant to your concerns: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20170116/09333936490/law-enforcement-has-been-using-onstar-siriusxm-to-eavesdrop-track-car-locations-more-than-15-years.shtml

            I will caution that some articles in the public domain relating to abilities to penetrate and geolocate wireless units contains inaccurate information. The actual capabilities are made available to those with a need to know.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    Because things never break on cars, no need to speculate what happens if this malfunctions at the wrong time. Like someone is trying to swerve to avoid an collision and the cars brakes decide to kick in.

    • 0 avatar
      JDG1980

      Why would we need to speculate? This technology is already on millions of real-world cars and has been for years. Can you cite any cases of this nightmare scenario actually happening?

  • avatar
    -Nate

    But, but ;

    ? What about road rage ? .

    How is bubba supposed to display his anger if not allowed to bump/bash other vehicles ? .

    And think of the poor Taxi drivers in NYC ! .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    EGSE

    @MCS: I’ve also wondered that. My latest whip is an ’07 Civic so no Bluetooth, but I’ve experienced the purple prose friends scream when Apple Carplay or Android Auto misbehaves. I canceled the wireline phone and went cellular ages ago. A Panasonic cordless phone system uses Bluetooth to connect to the cellphone; it was easy to set up and flawless in operation. Contrast that with the hair-pulling flog getting the phone to pair with the Samsung TV.

    When USB came along it had a few minor hiccups (cough: Windows 95). But it was ironed out quickly and now 8 year old kids do in a few seconds what it took me hours to do setting up bus-connected peripherals back in the day. After hours so I could cuss like a sailor…..

    Intel ran “our rock stars aren’t like your rock stars” ads years back. One was memorable…it had an engineer apparently from India who co-invented USB. People in the office swarmed him like groupies, the women wanted to jump his bones, etc. I get it. USB is a modern technical marvel. I’d like to buy that man a beer.

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Brisbane

    How about this : If a phone detects that it is moving, it defaults to hands-free or voice control only. That will eliminate the use of eyes and fingers for texting. For phone calls, newer cars will eventually install microphones for back seat passengers. The phone doesn’t need GPS to detect movement. It has multiple means using the accelerometer or compass or just switching between cells.

    • 0 avatar
      multicam

      So passengers get screwed? No thanks.

      • 0 avatar
        Spike_in_Brisbane

        Not screwed. They just have to use hands free techniques or voice. A tiny compromise.

        • 0 avatar
          multicam

          A tiny compromise? Are you kidding me? Have you ever tried to dictate an acronym-filled sentence to Siri? Or a sentence with technical jargon related to your job? It’s a nightmare. So now if I’m sitting in the back of a car, everyone in the car gets to hear me correct Siri 15 times before giving up and throwing my phone out the window. And forget about saying anything personal. You do know that some people conduct business on their phone while being driven places right? And that some rides last hours?

          Wait a minute… I really can’t tell if you’re being serious or not. You can’t be.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Another safety feature that would be welcome if implemented well, but probably won’t be.

    I’d certainly disable it by any means possible if it ever activated unnecessarily or didn’t have an override, in case somebody tries to illegally detain me.

    I’ll wait for Helen’s opinion on this before making any judgement.

  • avatar
    mattmers

    This is no surprise. NHTSA’s reports and data is disappointing at best. When it was reported last year that the model 3 got the highest crash rating I checked the data. NHTSA has very incomplete crash tests for most modern brands. Companies like volvo and subaru for some models have no crash data. So the crash rating awarded by NHTSA is based on the fact they have not tested most modern high safety focused companies. Also the award was based on the high roll over test rating. If you look at the reports they strap the car to this lift and turn it sideways to test roll over. The problem is they use post crashed vehicles. This moves the center of gravity. Not only that but for most vehicles they used frontal crashed vehicles but for the model 3 they used a side crashed vehicle. Frontal crash vehicles generally have a higher center of gravity because the engine is moved. While I believe that the tesla would still get the highest score for rollover I don’t think the degree is as high as indicated.

  • avatar
    Jacob

    Am I the only one who thinks that automatic brake systems are a useless piece of junk? My 2016 Pilot flashes the light “BRAKE BRAKE! NOW” about five times a day for absolutely no good reason at all. At 40 thousand miles, (just past warranty) I was greeted with collision mitigation system ERRORs, and had to take the car to dealer. After four hours of diagnostics, they couldn’t figure out whats wrong and “reset” the system. 5 thousand miles later, the same error came out, and Honda technicians again had no clue. One technician told me if I drive a lot in stop-n-go traffic then the system could overheat, and it’s better to turn it off, although given the confidence with which he was saying it, it’s BS. Anyways, the best way to deal with this system is to TURN IT OFF because if it gives dozens of false positive warnings every day, then it’s pretty much useless.

  • avatar
    gregsfc

    This is just another article that should be titled; Govts’add more regulations to deny more of their citizens around the world mobility, thereby moving more free persons into poverty and slavery globally. Nice plan for more world order and corporate domination.

    • 0 avatar
      jatz

      “Govts’add more regulations to deny more of their citizens around the world mobility, thereby moving more free persons into poverty and slavery globally.”

      You don’t get to write no more headlines.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Buncha paranoics here, better go get your tin foil hats adjusted soon .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Boxerman

    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.

  • avatar
    Garak

    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.

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