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Safety officials on automatic emergency braking mandate: Not so fast

CVSA, brake manufacturers urge ELD-style listening sessions as part of rulemaking

Truckers warn of safety issues if AEBs are required. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

WASHINGTON — State law enforcement officials and brake manufacturers want more interaction between the trucking industry and federal regulators before the government considers public comments on a rule to mandate automatic emergency braking (AEB) on heavy trucks.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), whose members include state police and highway patrols, and the Commercial Vehicle Brake Manufacturers Council (CVBMC), a group under CVSA that represents OEMs, contend that the controversial AEB rule, proposed jointly by the National Highway Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, would benefit from a higher level of engagement.

“CVSA and CVBMC encourage the agencies to consider holding a [U.S. Department of Transportation]-led stakeholder listening session, if possible, to allow industry an additional opportunity to provide direct feedback to the agencies, similar to the listening sessions FMCSA held related to electronic logging devices and the industry forum NHTSA held while developing the antilock brake system requirements,” CVSA Executive Director Collin Mooney wrote to DOT earlier this month.

At the same time, Mooney asked the agencies to extend the comment period beyond Sept. 5, which is the current 60-day deadline but which is “not adequate time to prepare and approve comments on such a complicated and important issue,” he asserted.

“CVSA and CVBMC are working to develop comments in response to the proposal and would like the opportunity to collaborate with other entities that will be commenting, to ensure all issues and concerns are addressed and our organization can provide NHTSA and FMCSA with comments that will contribute to a comprehensive, well informed, science and data-based [Notice of Proposed Rulemaking].”

The proposed rule adopts new standards requiring AEB systems on trucks as well as requiring an electronic stability control system that works with the AEB to sense when a crash is imminent. It also requires FMCSA to mandate that drivers activate AEBs whenever their truck is operating.

The mandate would go into effect for most new Class 7 and 8 trucks (those with a weight rating of over 26,000 pounds) within three years of a final rule, with most new Class 3-6 trucks (weighing over 10,000 pounds) meeting the requirements within four years.

While regulators estimate that requiring AEBs on trucks would generate between $1.8 billion and $2.6 billion in safety and other benefits, the majority of the hundreds of comments filed on the rule so far oppose it.

“AEBs are not effective enough to put into use on the roads, certainly not to mandate,” stated one commenter.

“They engage on ‘false positives’ too often and we need to not have anything that causes big rigs to ‘throw on the brakes’ without warning or cause. The actual conditions on the road (downhill, slick, curvy, heavy traffic, low speed) all create different and dynamically changing conditions. Experienced truckers can utilize technology when available but should not be at the mercy of the sensors and programming to crash/not crash.”

Such apprehension is why CVSA and CVBMC are planning an “industry discussion” on the proposal later this month. Subject matter experts, brake manufacturers, motor carriers and commercial motor vehicle manufacturers “will be invited to share their thoughts on the proposal, ask questions of one another and have an open dialogue on the requirements,” Mooney noted.

“We invite representatives from NHTSA and FMCSA to attend the meeting, as it will be an excellent opportunity for your agencies to listen to the concerns and thoughts of industry and engage in information gathering.”

Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher.


  1. Shelly grieving mother

    My dead son is proof they don’t work in almost every wether cont. I’m all about trucking safty. My ex had someone rear end him at a dead stop car was doing 80 and driver died. My son was doing a delivery for work on a nice sunny late spring, mother’s day week. Doing 55 or 60. Ems riding beside him about last 2 miles or so. This is how I know. Only red light for nearly 45 miles. Cars and truck run it all the time. My son had a 360 auto pilot, with emergency breaking system. Car in front of truck stopping. So truck had to stop you can’t see red light if a truck is in front of you. Anyways he hit truck went all the way under it to trunk. 23 with his whole life ahead of him. How they worry about laws already in place and failing to protect public. The bar was so thin and rusted. Was held on with what appeared to be JB weld. I have welder friends. They say it was so rusted it wouldn’t have held up to the heat of a real weld. I as a mother could pick bar up with one hand. Had holes rusted through. Wouldn’t even stop a go cart. And this company still sends trucks on toad with bars like this. It defeats purpose of the bar. My son had no damages below collar bone only to artery in neck and damage to his hand and forearms which I’ve been told it was defense wounds he threw hands up and turned head. So I know he tried to stop. I believe he would have lived had he not went under that truck. And had his safety features worked. They said the sonar don’t work properly in rain, fog, snow, cloudy day,sunny day, in rusty containers. What other kind of driving conditions are their. I has same make of car. And my rear sonar went out causing my brakes to slam on with me and my 13 yr old in the car. 2 months afyer I lost my son. Please we need future testing before big trucks have them.

  2. Earnest hudgins

    Stop trying to make robots out of the trucks please you’re gonna cause major accident now we’re gonna have electric trucks self driving trucks come on man Elon please go away automatic transmissions close to a lot of this quality of drivers less than it used to be Why is there people technology is going to cause more problems than having a better driver behind the wheel

  3. Earnest hudgins

    Automatic truck sensors for breaking you people are going too far it’s going to cause major accident people cut you off the brake check you and you’re gonna end up getting your brakes locked app and if it’s icy conditions you’re gonna be out of control come on people wise up you’re trying to do something that Having better drivers would make the difference the automatic transmission ruined this business you’re putting people in trucks that shouldn’t be in trucks that’s your problem it’s not about how you can make technology make the truck safer make the person safer that’s driving the truck get rid of the automatics and put back manual transmissions in you’ll see a difference in the quality of drivers that’s my opinion yeah stop trying to make robots out of the trucks Elon Musk What a dumb idea

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John Gallagher

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.