Statement by Cathy Chase, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates), on Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on AEB in Commercial Motor Vehicles
(Washington, DC-June 22, 2023) Two U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) agencies, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, jointly released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to require automatic emergency braking (AEB) in new commercial motor vehicles (CMV) over 10,000 lbs. including large tractor-trailer trucks and Class 3-6 trucks such as box trucks and delivery vehicles.
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) commends the DOT agencies for this action.* Equipping all trucks with AEB, including those driving around our neighborhoods, where children are playing or biking to school and people are walking their dogs, to drop off e-commerce packages and conduct other services is essential to saving lives.
Crash fatalities and injuries involving large trucks are unconscionably high, with nearly 5,800 people killed in 2021 and an average of 148,000 people injured annually. The physical and emotional toll is compounded by the cost to society from crashes involving CMVs, estimated to be $163 billion in 2019. When adjusted for inflation, costs are estimated to be $182 billion. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), AEB can reduce large truck front-to-rear crashes by 41 percent.
Advocates again lauds Congress for advancing requirements for AEB in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA, Pub. L. 117-58). Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), sponsors of the Protecting Roadside First Responders Act, S. 1386, and other members of Congress worked to ensure the AEB mandate for trucks, supported by broad interests, was included in the IIJA with a deadline of November 2023 for issuance of a final rule.
The NPRM identifies that taking this regulatory action will save 155 lives, prevent 8,814 injuries and over 19,000 crashes annually. It is important to note that these figures do not include crashes that will be less severe because of the AEB system. The rulemaking also will result in savings of close to $2 billion per year. With these documented safety gains, quick action to finalize a comprehensive rule is essential.
In addition to requiring AEB in all new vehicles, NHTSA must move forward expeditiously on other final rules for vehicle safety technologies including lane departure warning (LDW) and lane keeping assist (LKA), as well as impaired driving prevention technology, vehicular heatstroke “hot cars” detection and alert systems, rear seat belt reminder systems, and speed limiters set at 60 MPH for CMVs, among others.
By prioritizing and finalizing these vital rulemakings, the Biden Administration will establish a legacy of safety and mitigate the staggering toll of lives, injuries and costs on our roadways. Every person in every community deserves safe roads to drive, walk, roll or ride.
Note: Advocates is in the process of reviewing the extensive NPRM and will be submitting comments to the docket.