WASHINGTON — The nation's top auto safety regulator on Wednesday proposed requiring automatic emergency braking, including pedestrian detection, on all new light-duty vehicles and set minimum performance standards for the systems.
If the proposal is adopted, nearly all U.S. passenger cars and light trucks — with a gross vehicle weight rating of up to 10,000 pounds — would be required to have the crash-avoidance technology three years after the rule is finalized. Tougher requirements would take effect four years after that finalization.
NHTSA projects the proposal, if finalized, would prevent at least 360 deaths and reduce injuries on U.S. roads by at least 24,000 annually.
The agency estimates the proposal would cost automakers nearly $282.2 million annually across their entire vehicle fleet. The cost per vehicle is estimated at $82 for each design cycle change of the model, according to the proposal.
"We know we're throwing a challenge out here," Polly Trottenberg, deputy secretary of the U.S. Transportation Department, said at a press event Wednesday. "But we know that a lot of this technology is already pretty well-developed, and this is a time to take things to the next level, to make this technology more universally deployed and more stringent."
The long-awaited proposal — a direct response to a provision in the infrastructure law passed by Congress in 2021 — arrives as the technology becomes more common across all makes and models, not just luxury vehicles and higher trim levels.
At least 14 automakers already have met a 2016 voluntary commitment brokered by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and NHTSA to equip 95 percent of their light-duty cars and trucks with automatic emergency braking. The commitment calls for automakers to meet the benchmark for models manufactured from Sept. 1, 2022, to Aug. 31, 2023.