Bill would mandate automatic emergency braking on new heavy-duty trucks

July 18, 2019

Mark Schremmer

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A new bill introduced in the House would require automatic emergency braking (AEB) technology to become a standard feature for new commercial motor vehicles.

The Safe Roads Act, HR3773, was introduced on Tuesday, July 16 by Reps. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill., and Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga.

“Automatic braking systems are a simple, commonsense solution to deploy proven crash-avoidance technologies,” Garcia said in a news release. “Rep. Johnson and I agree that we should always operate on a safety-first basis. Any further delays to implement this important, life-saving technology will only result in more preventable, tragic deaths and catastrophic injuries.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, however, said AEB technology is still in its infancy.

“Most AEB systems are designed to only work at low speeds as sudden braking at higher speeds can startle a driver, leading to erratic driving behavior,” the OOIDA Foundation wrote in a recent one-pager on the topic. “Most AEB systems lack sophisticated situational awareness, meaning they may not be able to recognize if an object ahead is in the current travel lane or the next lane over – and whether it is a temporarily stopped car, a pedestrian, or a bag of garbage.”

OOIDA also said that initial surveys indicate mixed opinions about the technology.

“In follow-up interviews, some safety managers cited concerns that AEB may not be appropriate in winter conditions and that false activations could cause problems, particularly during winter,” the Foundation wrote.

Based off a report from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute in 2017 that said the average AEB system cost $2,500 per truck, it would cost $42.1 billion to retrofit the entire U.S. fleet of large trucks with AEB and $1.1 billion to equip only new large trucks.

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, staff writer, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and nearly two decades of journalism experience to our staff.