Defensive Driving Blog

Is Automatic Braking in Automobiles Inevitable?


What if you could have a system in your car that is always alert, never tired or distracted, watching the road for you? Sounds ideal and could become a standard feature for cars in the future… at least for 9 automakers who have announced they will make automatic braking a standard feature for all of their makes and models across the board.

Some might say that this move is just to make cars more expensive in general, since this feature is now optional on most automobiles. But this move is in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), who will help them work out an agreement that involves the timeline for these changes. The automakers involved are Audi, BMW, General Motors, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo. It is expected that other automotive manufacturers will also get on board once there is pressure to comply.

“Most crashes are due to driver error”, states Adrian Lund, President of the IIHS. “This technology can compensate for the mistakes every driver makes”. NHTSA chief Mark Rosekind adds that there will always be regulations put into place to keep people safe and, “We will use all paths to save lives. The industry in this case though, hasn’t waited for regulation.”

So how does this system work? Automatic or mitigated braking systems use laser sensors and cameras to detect imminent obstacles and instructs the braking system in order to prevent a crash. The system calculates speed and distance of a perceived obstacle and alerts the driver to the need for a new course of action. The system will give some sort of audio or visual warning, with some automatically slowing down or beginning to brake. If the driver fails to respond to the obstacle, the system will bring the car to a halt.


These systems are expensive and have only been offered on top-tier autos. According to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, these car makers are willing to eat some of the cost to make their cars safer for drivers. “If technologies such as automatic emergency braking are only available as options or on the most expensive models, too few Americans will see the benefits of this new era and these companies are committing to making Automatic emergency Braking (AEB) available to all new-car buyers.”

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