AEB standards for light vehicles to take effect in 2029

May 1, 2024

Mark Schremmer


The U.S. Department of Transportation is moving forward with efforts to mandate automatic emergency braking technology.

This week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced its final rule that will make AEB technology standard on all passenger cars and light trucks by September 2029.

NHTSA and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also have plans to issue a mandate for heavy-duty trucks. That was projected to be released in April, but the final rule still hasn’t been sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review. That process often takes months.

The DOT projects that the mandate for light vehicles – those weighing 10,000 pounds or less – will save 360 lives each year and reduce annual injuries by 24,000.

“The new vehicle safety standards we finalized will save hundreds of lives and prevent tens of thousands of injuries every year,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a news release. “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is not only making historic investments in transportation, it’s also ushering in a new era of safer travel by ensuring new cars and light trucks are equipped with automatic emergency braking, making our roads safer for drivers and pedestrians alike.”

AEBs on heavy vehicles

Last year, FMCSA and NHTSA issued a joint proposal that would require AEB systems and electronic stability control systems on new vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds.

The heavy vehicle proposal calls for all Class 7 and 8 vehicles – those weighing more than 26,000 pounds – to be required to meet the AEB standards three years after the rule takes effect. All Class 3 to 6 vehicles – those weighing 10,001 to 26,000 pounds – would be required to meet the AEB and electronic stability control requirements in four years. Small-volume manufacturers would have until five years after the final rule took effect. There would not be any retrofit requirements on existing heavy vehicles.

During the formal comment period, many truckers told the agencies that current AEB technologies are deficient and cited examples of false activations. Examples included false activations being triggered by shadows from an overpass or guardrails while traveling on a curve.

“The notice of proposed rulemaking mandates AEB systems without sufficiently addressing false activations, properly consulting with professional truck drivers or completing ongoing research programs,” OOIDA wrote in comments sent in September.

NHTSA opened an investigation in May 2023 into false automatic braking on certain Freightliner trucks. There were 18 complaints of false AEB activation “without an actual roadway obstacle.” In some instances, the false activation brought the truck to a complete stop in the travel lane. The investigation remains active. LL