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What Do Product Liability Attorneys Need To Know About Automatic Emergency Braking?

Research has shown that Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) systems significantly reduce the number of rear-end crashes and has the potential to save thousands of lives each year, but a Consumer Reports analysis found that only 19 percent of 2017 model vehicles included this life-saving technology as standard features.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), luxury carmakers have the highest proportion of vehicles produced with AEB. Other carmakers offer AEB systems as optional features in safety technology packages in 2016 and 2017 models.

What are Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) Systems?

According to the NHTSA, AEB systems help prevent crashes or reduce the severity of crashes by applying the brakes for the driver, or increasing braking effort if the driver does not act quickly enough. Through radar, camera, lasers and other on-vehicle sensors, the system detects an imminent crash, warns the driver, and applies the brakes.

Backed by the research, IIHS and the NHTSA in 2015 jointly announced an agreement, in principle, with 10 automakers to make AEB a standard feature on all new vehicles built.

What Does Research Show About AEB systems?

A highly cited IIHS study from January 2016, found that AEB systems reduce rear-end crashes by about 40 percent on average and Forward Collision Warning systems (FCW) alone cut them by 23 percent. FCW systems help prevent frontal crashes into the rear of slower-moving or stopped vehicles.

IIHS now indicates that AEB systems cut rear-end crashes in half, while FCW alone reduces crashes by nearly a third, according to a joint NHTSA-IIHS December 2017 news release.

According to the IIHS study, there would have been at least 700,000 fewer police-reported rear-end crashes in 2013 had all vehicles been equipped with auto brakes that worked as well as the systems studied.

Are There Any Standards or Rules in Place for AEB Systems?

Currently, there are no federal laws or rules governing AEB systems. Automakers can voluntarily make AEB a standard feature on their vehicles. According to the NHTSA, 20 automakers pledged to voluntarily equip their passenger vehicles by September 1, 2022.

Of the 20 automakers, the NHTSA announced in December 2017 that four car manufacturers reported AEB is standard on more than half of their 2017 model year vehicles. According to the NHTSA, luxury carmakers have the highest proportion of vehicles produced with AEB:

  • Tesla has AEB on nearly all 2017 Model S cars and Model X SUVs, either as original equipment or via an over-the-air software update.
  • Mercedes-Benz has 96 percent of its 2017 vehicles with standard AEB.
  • Audi has 73 percent of its vehicles with AEB.
  • Volvo has 68 percent of its vehicles with AEB.
  • BMW has 58 percent of its vehicles with AEB.

Has There Been Litigation Over AEB Systems?

In January 2016, the Center for Auto Safety, Consumer Watchdog, and former NHSTA chief, Joan Claybrook, filed a petition with the NHTSA to mandate the equipping of all light vehicles with three types of AEB technologies:

  • Forward crash warning
  • Crash imminent braking
  • Dynamic brake support

The NHTSA had up to 12 days to approve or deny the petition.

After the NHTSA failed to respond to the petition, the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against NHTSA in November 2016 to compel the agency to respond to the petition. The lawsuit contended that NHTSA violated federal law by failing to respond to the petition within 120 days. The court dismissed the lawsuit. (The case is Center for Auto Safety, Consumer Watchdog, Joan Claybrook vs. NHTSA, Case No. 16-2325, U.S. District Court, and District of Columbia).

In January 2017, the NHTSA denied the petition, stating in its Federal Register notice, that there was no need for a mandate because the agency had already taken steps to include AEB in its proposed expanded New Car Assessment Program. Automakers voluntarily agreed to install AEB as standard equipment on most of their new vehicles by 2022.

What Does Newsome Melton Suggest?

Rich Newsome, the senior partner of the Newsome Melton law firm, suggests that product liability attorneys considering a potential cause of action could bring a claim against car manufacturers for failing to equip all new passenger cars with AEB. If automakers have a duty to make their vehicles safe, then this cost-efficient and effective technology should be included in their vehicles.

Call Newsome Melton for More Information

If you are a product liability attorney or a consumer advocate and would like to know more information about bringing potential claims against car manufacturers or Automatic Emergency Braking systems call Newsome Melton at 888-808-5977.

The Newsome Melton law firm represents families and individuals who have experienced catastrophic injuries caused by defective products and medical malpractice.

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