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Automatic Braking Will be Mandatory on New Cars and Light Trucks

Car brake lights on a city road at night

New technology has made cars and trucks safer in recent years. However, the advances are not reflected in accident statistics that record a rise in fatalities in Virginia and across the United States over the past three years. Now the government is to make automatic emergency braking systems mandatory on all new passenger cars and light trucks.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would require automatic emergency braking as well as pedestrian AEB systems on passenger automobiles and light trucks.

The change is expected to address two areas that have claimed thousands of lives in recent years; rear-end collisions and pedestrian accidents.

If finalized, the rule is expected to save at least 360 lives a year and reduce injuries by as many as 24,000 annually. AEB systems may prevent many accidents altogether while reducing the seriousness of thousands of others.

The announcement follows provisions in the 2021 infrastructure legislation to establish minimum performance standards for AEB systems which use radar and cameras to detect when a car is heading for a crash, automatically applying the brakes if the driver has failed to do so.

“Today, we take an important step forward to save lives and make our roadways safer for all Americans,” said Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg. He compared AEB advances to milestones in the past such as seat belts and airbags. We take these features for granted but it was not always the case.

NHTSA chief counsel Ann Carlson said the proposal will “require all cars to be able to stop and avoid contact with a vehicle in front of them up to 62 miles per hour. And the proposal would require pedestrian AEB, including requiring that AEB recognize and avoid pedestrians at night.”

Notwithstanding the bold promises made in the infrastructure law in 2021, the number of fatal crashes continues to rise year-on-year in Virginia and elsewhere post-COVID-19.

The number of pedestrians killed in 2021 rose 13% to 7,342, the highest number since 1981. Pedestrian deaths in Virginia rose a staggering 36.8% from 2021 to 2022, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

The Department of Transportation’s National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS) includes $800 million in grants to help communities to implement projects in high crash areas. The investment is yet to show real results.

Talk to a Virginia Attorney about Pedestrian and Rear-End Accidents

The attorneys at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers are acutely aware of the seriousness of pedestrian and rear-end accidents. We also help people who have been injured in T-bone, head-on, sideswipe, rollover, and other accidents in cities including Norfolk and Virginia Beach. We welcome measures to improve automobile safety but are aware of the size of the challenge ahead. If you have been hit and injured by a car or a truck, you may be entitled to compensation. If you have lost a loved one, you may be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Please contact our experienced car crash experts as soon as possible for a free consultation at (757) 333-3333.

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