Nearly all new cars will have automatic emergency braking by 2022

Fender benders could soon be a thing of the past

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has announced that 20 car makers have agreed to make automatic emergency braking (AEB) a standard feature by September 2022.

Together, the automakers represent more than 99% of the current US market, meaning nearly all new automobiles released in the US will have AEB technology by 2022.

Automatic braking systems use forward-looking sensors to monitor the risk of colliding with a car, object or pedestrian. When it detects obstructions, vehicles are programmed brake even even come to a stop if the driver does nothing, to minimize or avoid accidents.

"By proactively making emergency braking systems standard equipment on their vehicles, these 20 automakers will help prevent thousands of crashes and save lives," said US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in the statement announcing the agreement. "It's a win for safety and a win for consumers."

Speeding up safety

The technology has only recently been rolled out on a wider scale. The NHTSA, which has championed the technology, suggested this agreement will help push it as a standard on new cars three years faster than if it were left as a formal regulatory process.

"A commitment of this magnitude is unprecedented, and it will bring more safety to more Americans sooner," said NHTSA Administrator Dr Mark Rosekind.

It should be noted, however, that the announcement is only an agreement between the carmakers, and not a rule set in stone. Still, the consumer advocacy magazine Consumer Reports has been chosen to monitor the deployment of the technology.

Automatic braking, along with other similar automated technologies like lane keeping, are essentially the first few steps to fully autonomous cars.

But while autonomous cars are still a few years away yet, Rosekind says, "A commitment of this magnitude is unprecedented, and it will bring more safety to more Americans sooner."