All New U.S. Cars Must Carry Automatic Brakes by 2029

Business|All New U.S. Cars Must Carry Automatic Brakes by 2029

The technology is already sold on most vehicles, but a new federal safety regulation raises the standards.

An overhead view of a bend in an interstate highway.
A new rule imposes more stringent requirements than the automatic emergency braking technology now sold on most vehicles.Credit…Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times

Rob Copeland

Starting in 2029, a new federal safety regulation will require all new cars and trucks in the United States to be sold with automatic emergency braking — sensors that hit the brakes to avoid a collision if the driver does not.

The new rule, which was made final on Monday, imposes more stringent requirements than the automatic emergency braking technology now sold on most vehicles, and even goes past the point of present technological feasibility, automakers said. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration set a September 2029 date for compliance, saying it was confident that the systems would be ready by then.

Under the standards, outlined in a 317-page document, all “light vehicles,” which include cars, large pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles, will have to be able to automatically hit their brakes to avoid hitting another vehicle at speeds of up to 62 miles per hour. The system will also have to at least begin to apply the brakes at speeds up to 90 m.p.h. if a collision is imminent. That’s higher than the maximum U.S. speed limit of 85 m.p.h. The system will have to detect pedestrians, too.


The new rule is meant to address the steady climb of traffic deaths in recent years, according to officials.CreditCredit…NHTSA

The rules are necessary because of steadily climbing traffic deaths in recent years, Biden administration officials argued. “The new vehicle safety standards we finalized today will save hundreds of lives and prevent tens of thousands of injuries every year,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.

An estimated 41,000 people were killed in automobile accidents in the United States in 2023.

Automatic braking systems are a relatively new feature, and regulators and carmakers alike agree that they have already helped save lives. Introduced in 2011, they typically use cameras, radar or both to identify other vehicles, pedestrians or obstacles in front of a car.

They usually alert the driver if a collision is possible, then force the application of the brakes if needed.

Carmakers have said they needed no prodding to adopt the systems, pointing out that, in 2016, they voluntarily agreed to make the technology standard in all new cars and trucks. About 90 percent of new vehicles on sale now have some form of automatic emergency braking.

Regulators said on Monday that carmakers had expressed concern about “taking away the driver’s authority” at high speeds.

The industry’s main lobbying group, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, “viewed the expectation that manufacturers are capable of providing undefined levels of avoidance at all speeds as neither practicable nor reasonable,” regulators said.

The Biden administration estimated the rule’s cost at an average of $23 per vehicle.

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William Murphy

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