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Consumer Reports: Big win for safer roads as U.S. sets new rule to make automatic emergency braking standard in all new passenger vehicles

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Consumer Reports (CR) today praised a new rule that will require automatic emergency braking to come standard in all new cars and light-duty trucks sold in the United States. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today announced a final version of the rule that was proposed in 2023 following many years of advocacy by groups like CR. 


CR considers automatic emergency braking, or AEB, to be one of the biggest advances in auto safety in the past two decades. The technology has a proven track record of helping save lives and prevent injuries. Under the new federal rule, starting in 2029, all new passenger vehicles must come equipped with AEB systems that can prevent or mitigate frontal crashes with cars, including at highway speeds; as well as with pedestrians, whether during the day or at night. 


William Wallace, associate director of safety policy for Consumer Reports, said, “This rule will set a vital baseline for every new car on the road. People should be able to trust that the lifesaving technology on their car is going to be there for them when they need it, and that’s what this rule will accomplish. 


“These requirements are strong, but they’re also clearly feasible for automakers to meet, so we urge automakers to step up and meet this rule’s minimum standards without delay. To the extent a company provides an even greater level of protection – such as by reliably detecting bicyclists and motorcyclists – we stand ready to make sure consumers know about it.”


Over the past year, CR has made recommendations to NHTSA on ways to craft today’s rule and ensure that it delivers strong safety benefits for consumers. CR submitted a petition signed by more than 24,000 individual consumers supporting NHTSA’s plans and urging the agency to finalize the strongest possible requirements. 


While nearly all new vehicles today come standard with some form of AEB, the performance of these systems can vary, and not all of them reliably detect pedestrians or function well at high speeds, or under dark conditions. This new rule will raise the bar to ensure that all new vehicles have AEB with these features.  


To incentivize automakers to put safety first, CR has for several years awarded points in its car ratings to the vehicles that offer standard AEB with pedestrian detection. CR requires vehicles to have standard AEB with pedestrian detection, as well as standard AEB that can provide at least some braking at highway speeds, to qualify for its annual Top Picks for autos.


Since 2016, CR has been monitoring the progress of automakers that pledged to install AEB in at least 95 percent of their passenger vehicles under a voluntary agreement with NHTSA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. As of last year, all 20 participating automakers have fulfilled their pledge with respect to light vehicles, but they will need to meet a broader and more challenging set of performance requirements under the new NHTSA rule.


Contact: David Butler, david.butler@consumer.org