USDOT to Require Automatic Emergency Braking for Big Rigs as Part of ‘Zero Fatality’ Initiative
Washington, D.C. — The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) is launching a new initiative aimed at reducing roadway fatalities to zero.
In what is being called the National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS), the USDOT says it is taking “concrete steps… to address the national crisis in roadway fatalities and serious injuries.”
“We cannot tolerate the continuing crisis of roadway deaths in America. These deaths are preventable, and that’s why we’re launching the NRSS today,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “We will work with every level of government and industry to deliver results, because every driver, passenger, and pedestrian should be certain that they’re going to arrive at their destination safely, every time.”
As part of the NRSS, the Department will soon begin a rulemaking to require automatic emergency braking (AEB) technology on all newly manufactured heavy-duty trucks as well as for passenger vehicles.
A provision requiring the USDOT to undertake such a rulemaking was included in the $1.2 trillion infrastructure law signed late last year.
Many professional drivers express concern about the safety of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) such as AEB technology.
However, leading trucking associations along with mega carriers such as Werner, J.B. Hunt, and Schneider National, have been lobbying hard for ADAS, including AEB, to be required on big rigs.
The USDOT said it is also considering rulemakings to strengthen standards for rear impact guards on newly manufactured trailers and semi-trailers.
Additionally, the Department touted its plan to require manufacturers to provide notification when there is a crash involving Automated Driving Systems (ADS) and create a public database of information that “can inform safer passenger vehicles.”
As ADS continues to emerge and be widely deployed, the USDOT promised to “ensure timely investigation” into problems and crashes involving these technologies.
More key aspects of the NRSS are included below:
• Implement the October 2021 final rule requiring State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs) to access and use information obtained through the FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse and take licensing actions against commercial drivers who have drugs or alcohol violations in the system and are not cleared to return to duty.
• Implement the July 2021 final rule requiring SDLAs to develop systems for the electronic exchange of driver history record information. Work with SDLAs to improve accuracy of CDL driver records and to evaluate additional opportunities to use these more accurate records to take unsafe drivers off the road more expeditiously.
• Support the planning, design and implementation of safer roads and streets in all communities using all available and applicable federal funding resources, including existing formula funding programs to include but not limited to the Highway Safety Improvement Program.
• Revise Federal Highway Administration guidance and regulations to take into account the safety of all users by encouraging the setting of context-appropriate speed limits and creating roadways that help to “self-enforce” speed limits. Provide noteworthy practices for reengineering roads to slow down vehicles rather than rely primarily on enforcement to manage speeding. Promote speed safety cameras as a proven safety countermeasure.
• Develop and implement an outreach plan for emergency medical services personnel for on-scene safety and traffic incident management training targeted at improved responder and motorist safety.
Photo courtesy Washington State Police