Ten automakers have committed to the U.S. government and a private safety group that they will include automatic emergency braking in all new cars, a step transportation officials say could significantly reduce traffic deaths and injuries.
The announcement didn’t specify a timetable for implementing the change. The automakers are Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo. The manufacturers represented 57% of U.S. car and light truck sales in 2014.
The commitments were made to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which regulates automakers, and the Insurance Institute for Auto Safety, an industry group that researches and promotes safety.
The technology is already available in some vehicles, but typically as an option in higher-priced models like Cadillac, Infiniti and Lexus. It is also often bundled with other features like heated seats or faux leather interiors, making the overall package more expensive.
Automatic emergency braking includes a range of systems designed to address the large number of crashes, especially rear-end crashes, in which drivers do not apply the brakes or fail to apply sufficient braking power to avoid or mitigate a crash. The systems use on-vehicle sensors such as radar, cameras or lasers to detect an imminent crash, warn the driver and, if the driver does not take sufficient action, engage the brakes.
The systems could prevent or mitigate an estimated 80% of the auto and commercial truck rear-end collisions that cause about 1,700 deaths and a half million injuries annually, according to a recent report by the National Transportation Safety Board. There are about 1.7 million rear-end crashes each year in the U.S.
The traffic safety administration and the insurance institute said they will set specific performance criteria for manufacturers to meet their voluntary commitments, and will determine how soon consumers can expect to see the technology as standard equipment.