NHTSA and Auto Industry Favor Voluntary Safety Slow Down On Automatic Braking
The AP reports in an excellent article by Joan Lowy:
“WASHINGTON — Federal regulators and the auto industry are taking a more lenient approach than safety advocates like when it comes to phasing in automatic braking systems for passenger cars, according to records of their private negotiations.
The technology automatically applies brakes to prevent or mitigate collisions, rather than waiting for the driver to act. It’s the most important safety technology available today that’s not already required in cars.
Such systems should be standard in all new cars, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But instead of mandating it, the government is trying to work out a voluntary agreement with automakers in hopes of getting it in cars more quickly.
But safety advocates say voluntary agreements aren’t enforceable and are likely to contain weaker standards and longer timelines than if the government had issued rules.
“Consumers are going to come up the losers in this process,” said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety.
Meeting minutes obtained by The Associated Press of four of the meetings that NHTSA has held with automakers since October show the government is considering significant concessions.
Records of a meeting on Nov. 12, show that automatic braking systems would be allowed that slow vehicles by as little as 5 mph before a collision. Manufacturers would be allowed to exempt 5 percent of their vehicles from the standard. Some automakers had said it would take longer to ready manual transmission vehicles for the technology. The discussion included an additional exemption for models that manufacturers intend to phase out or redesign.
The minutes from the fourth session, on Dec. 9, indicate that some automakers say they won’t be ready to include the technology in 95 percent of their vehicles until model year that begins in September 2025. NHTSA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety objected, saying such a long timeline “was too late for this effort to be seen as a serious effort.” Automakers are now being polled to see if they can equip 95 percent of their vehicles by the model year beginning in September 2022.” See