Automatic Emergency Braking Becoming Standard

Starting in 2029, vehicle manufacturers will be required to include automatic emergency braking (AEB) as a standard feature in cars and light trucks. This initiative is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s broader National Roadway Safety Strategy, aimed at reducing the rising fatalities on the nation’s roads. The new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard, known as FMVSS No. 127, was finalized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to make AEB systems, including those that detect pedestrians, a standard on all passenger cars and light trucks by September 2029.

automatic emergency braking system

Impact and Benefits of Automatic Emergency Braking

The implementation of this safety standard is anticipated to significantly diminish rear-end collisions and accidents involving pedestrians. NHTSA estimates that the adoption of FMVSS No. 127 will save at least 360 lives and prevent around 24,000 injuries each year. AEB systems function by using sensors to detect imminent collisions with another vehicle or pedestrian, automatically activating the brakes if the driver fails to respond in time. This technology is effective in various lighting conditions, thereby enhancing safety during both day and night.

Statements from Transportation Officials

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg highlighted the importance of these advancements, stating, “The new vehicle safety standards we finalized today will save hundreds of lives and prevent tens of thousands of injuries every year.” He credited the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for enabling historic investments in transportation that contribute to safer travel. NHTSA Deputy Administrator Sophie Shulman also emphasized the maturity and effectiveness of AEB technology, noting that many vehicles are already equipped with this feature and are expected to meet the new standards before the 2029 deadline.

Technical Specifications and Legal Framework

The new standard mandates that vehicles must be capable of stopping autonomously to avoid collisions with a vehicle ahead at speeds up to 62 miles per hour, and detect pedestrians in low light conditions, applying brakes automatically at speeds up to 90 mph for vehicle collisions and 45 mph for pedestrian detections. This rule fulfills a requirement set forth in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, establishing minimum performance standards for AEB in passenger vehicles and is a key component of the Department’s comprehensive approach to improve roadway safety.

Additional Developments and Resources

This rule applies to almost all U.S. light vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less. It comes with a Final Regulatory Impact Analysis that outlines the benefits and costs associated with the standard. Detailed information about the rulemaking process is available at Additionally, in June 2023, NHTSA and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration proposed a new rule to extend AEB requirements to heavy vehicles, including tractor trailers, which is currently under finalization.

Consumer Impact

From a safety perspective, the new law is sound, given the technological availability. That said, every government requirement adds to the cost of the vehicle, thus making new car ownership a difficult proposition for an increasingly sizable portion of the population. Indeed, we have already seen manufacturers abandon entry-level vehicles, making it very difficult for consumers to find anything for under $25,000.

See AlsoIIHS Finds Back Seat Passenger Safety Lacking in Most Midsize SUVs

Image under license from Adobe Stock.

Matt Keegan
Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan is a journalist, media professional, and owner of this website. He has an extensive writing background and has covered the automotive sector continuously since 2004. When not driving and evaluating new vehicles, Matt enjoys spending his time outdoors.

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