Technology could help reduce fatal accidents.
Fatal traffic accidents are one of the most persistent causes of death in the United States, and the number is increasing despite advances such as crash warning and avoidance systems and the increasing use of airbags. Nearly 43,000 people died in car crashes in 2022. That was slightly less than in 2021, but up 31 percent from 2014.
Traffic fatalities were declining about a decade ago, when they began to rise rapidly. The rise was driven by a spike in pedestrian deaths. An estimated 3,500 pedestrians were killed in the first half of 2022, the latest period for which data is available. This is the highest number in the last 40 years.
The toll goes beyond the number of deaths. In 2019, the economic cost of car accidents reached $340 billion, according to the safety agency. That year, 36,500 people died in car accidents, 4.5 million were injured and 23 million vehicles were damaged.
Government officials said the automatic braking proposal could save at least 360 lives a year and reduce injuries by about 24,000 a year. Even if automatic braking doesn’t prevent a crash, it can reduce the severity of accidents by slowing cars down.
Braking systems use radar or cameras to predict accidents.
Automatic emergency braking systems typically use cameras, radar, or both to detect vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, and other obstacles. By comparing the vehicle’s speed and direction with the speeds and direction of other vehicles or people, these systems can determine that a collision is imminent, alert the driver via an alarm, and apply the brakes if the driver fails to do so.
The first such systems were introduced in 2011. Five years later, automakers voluntarily agreed to make automatic emergency braking technology standard in all new cars and trucks by 2022. The agency said its proposed rule would impose higher standards than the technology automakers have agreed to. use.
In a statement, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, the industry’s main lobbying group, neither supported nor opposed the proposed rule, calling automatic braking a “breakthrough technology” that automakers have “already deployed.”
Automatic braking is one of the advanced driver assistance systems found in some new cars. Able to drive without human intervention and in some cases change lanes, these systems allow highway drivers to take their hands off the wheel. These systems include Tesla’s Autopilot, General Motors’ Super Cruise, and Ford Motor’s BlueCruise.
The Federal Safety Agency is investigating Tesla’s system after it appears to have failed to identify and detect other vehicles in some situations. The agency is looking into 43 crashes, including 14 that killed 18 people, that occurred when Autopilot or another system the company calls Full Self-Driving was activated.
It may take several years for the rules to take effect.
The safety agency will take comments from automakers, safety groups and the public on the rule before it becomes final — a process that could take a year or more. The rule will take effect three years after its adoption.
On Tuesday, President Biden withdrew the nomination of Ann E. Carlson to lead the agency. Some Republican senators opposed her appointment because of her past work on environmental policy. Ms. Carlson, formerly a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, has been acting administrator of the agency since September.