U.S. DOT targets April for release of AEB final rule

October 4, 2023

Mark Schremmer


Hundreds of comments from truckers opposed to requiring automatic emergency braking systems on heavy trucks have not appeared to slow down the U.S. Department of Transportation’s plan to move forward with a rulemaking.

According to the DOT’s September 2023 Significant Rulemaking Report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are scheduled to release a final rule by April 30. That lofty target date indicates the agencies are making the mandate a regulatory priority.

The proposal

In July, NHTSA and FMCSA published a joint proposal that would require AEB systems and electronic stability control systems on new vehicles that weigh more than 10,000 pounds.

The 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.

The proposal would not require existing heavy vehicles to be retrofitted with AEB technology.


NHTSA and FMCSA accepted comments through Sept. 5. About 1,100 comments were submitted to the two agencies, according to the regulations.gov website. Many of the comments came from truck drivers who said the technology isn’t ready.

Truck driver Carrie Moore shared a story about a near-crash after the AEB initiated a full application because the technology mistook a guardrail on a curve as an immediate threat.

“It was a full application,” she said. “That sent the truck sideways. I barely kept it out of the median.”

Representing more than 150,000 truckers, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association told the agencies that going through with a mandate before the technology is perfected would jeopardize the safety of its members.

“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 signed by President Todd Spencer.

Congress mandated the agencies to issue a regulation on AEB systems. However, OOIDA noted that Congress also required the agencies to consult with representatives of commercial motor vehicle drivers regarding their experiences with the systems.

In addition to reacting to guardrails, the technology also registers false activations due to overpass shadows, many truckers said.

“(The) automatic emergency braking system is dangerous,” truck driver Joshua Campbell wrote. “It picks up shadows, barriers and SLAMS on the brakes! (It’s) very dangerous on winter roads. Consider this comment documentation in case something is to happen. This system has and will continue to cause accidents.”

Proponents of the mandate claim that the technology will prevent more than 19,000 crashes and save more than 150 lives annually once all vehicles are equipped.

Other rulemakings

The Significant Rulemakings Report also noted that FMCSA plans to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking to mandate speed limiters in December. The agency delayed the release of its broker transparency proposal until October 2024. LL