AEB will likely be standard on your next new truck

aeb pedestrian crossing 20 copy

We talk a lot about safety on this website, reporting on the latest ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) has begun to play a very important role in the Top Safety Pick awards, and now, not to be left out, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a final rule regarding the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, which will AEB becomes standard for low-efficiency vehicles on September 1, 2029.

What is AEB?

AEB uses sensors, radar, lidar and cameras, working together to detect collisions and apply the brakes automatically if the driver has not. The final rule from NHTSA states that these AEB systems must be able to detect both other vehicles and pedestrians.

Under this new law, cars must be able to stop AND avoid contact with the car in front of them up to 62 MPH. It should also apply the brakes up to 90 MPH when a collision with the lead car is imminent. With respect to pedestrians, including bicyclists, the system must operate in daylight and in the dark, and must operate at speeds up to 45 MPH when a pedestrian is detected.

“Automatic emergency braking is proven to save lives and reduce serious injuries from front-end crashes, and this technology has matured enough to be required in all new cars and light trucks. In fact, this technology is now so advanced that we need these systems to work even more at high speeds and detect pedestrians, said NHTSA Deputy Director Sophie Shulman. “Many new cars already come with AEB, and we expect that more cars and light trucks will be able to meet this standard before the deadline, which means more lives will be saved thanks to this technology.”

In fact, NHTSA says 360 lives a year will be saved and 24,000 injuries will be prevented each year with this technology in place.

Not immediately

Even though the NHTSA says that most vehicles already have this technology, and it should be easy for them to comply with this mandate, we want to say that it slows down your roll. If you look at front crash prevention scores from the IIHS, not all trucks make the grade. The Ram 1500 and Ford Maverick only received Marginal ratings, making them ineligible for TSP awards. The Honda Ridgeline, Ford F-150 and GMC Sierra haven't been tested, so they're still TBD — but those trucks are excluded from TSP awards for Marginal or Poor ratings in some tests.

So, there's still a lot of work to be done in the trucking segment to not only comply with the new NHTSA rules but also start winning safety awards.

If you want to know about the safest trucks on the market right now, we have an article for that.

Will this rule apply to all trucks?

The short answer is no. It will not work on heavy trucks. However, it will work on compact, medium and full-size trucks – including all your 150 or 1500 denominations. This makes sense since heavy trucks are not currently inspected by NHTSA or IIHS.

An important point

While this new added technology may increase truck prices even more, we think it's worth the cost. Really, how much is life? It doesn't matter.

However, I hope that the price will not be steep as all modern trucks already have some kind of technology. It just needs to be properly programmed and strengthened to operate at high speeds and in various shades of light and dark. We expect the IIHS to adjust its TSP awards to reflect this new rule, possibly as soon as 2025.

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