Truck companies press for automatic brakes

Truck companies press for automatic brakes
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The American Trucking Association (ATA) is pushing for federal regulators to require the installation of automatic emergency braking systems on U.S. cars and trucks. 

The group, which lobbies for truck companies, said the automated braking systems would reduce the potential for accidents on the nation's roads and highways. 

“In our role as a safety leader, we believe ATA needs to be at the forefront of advocating for proven safety technologies,” ATA President Bill Graves said in a statement. “The experience of our member fleets tells us that automatic emergency braking systems hold tremendous promise and as such, we believe manufacturers should make this equipment standard and the federal government should seriously look at issuing regulatory standards.”

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is considering requiring the installation of Automated Emergency Braking systems on all U.S. vehicles. The agency has already endorsed the automatic braking system as one of its technological vehicle improvements. 

“We are entering a new era of vehicle safety, focused on preventing crashes from ever occurring, rather than just protecting occupants when crashes happen,” Transportation Secretary Anthony FoxxAnthony Renard FoxxLyft confidentially files for IPO Hillicon Valley: Exclusive: Audit cleared Google's privacy practices despite security flaw | US weapon systems vulnerable to cyber attacks | Russian troll farm victim of arson attack | US telecom company finds 'manipulated' hardware Lyft taps former Obama administration official to lead its policy team MORE said in a statement announcing 10 major U.S. car companies had committed to making automated emergency standard on all vehicles in September. 

"But 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," Foxx continued then. 

Auto manufacturers have generally supported technologies that are referred to as "driver assists." The industry has historically opposed mandating the use of particular systems like the automated emergency braking, but Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers Mitch Bainwol is expected to tell Congress about the potential of driver assists in a hearing on vehicle technologies on Wednesday. 

"Crash avoidance, or 'driver assist,' technologies employ sophisticated software to interpret data from sensors, cameras, or radar-based technologies that allow vehicles to sense the environment around them and alert drivers of impending dangers," Bainwol will say, according to prepared testimony that has been submitted to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

"There are many different types of driver assists, including intervention technologies beginning with electronic stability control and warning technologies such as blind spot warnings, lane departure alerts, and automatic braking for pedestrians, cyclists and wild animals, and adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams that help drivers in specific situations," Bainwol will continue. "The next phase of vehicle safety technology is vehicle to vehicle (V2V) and vehicle to infrastructure (V2X) communications." 

The debate over automatic braking comes as the House is considering a highway funding bill that is expected to include several changes to truck safety regulations. 

Trucking companies are pushing for an increase in limits on truck weights and lengths, over the objections of safety advocates who have pointed to crashes like a 2014 accident that injured comedian Tracy Morgan. 

"Congress should pass transportation bill that promotes #trucksafety & does not allow teenagers to drive 80,000-lb trucks across state lines," Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyFocus on Yemen, not the Saudi crown prince Mattis: Investigation into killing of Khashoggi is ongoing Senators introduce resolution saying Saudi crown prince 'complicit' in Khashoggi slaying MORE (D-Mass.) tweeted on Monday. 

The ATA pointed to its support for the automatic braking system requirement as evidence of its commitment to truck safety, even as critics assail its other proposals. 

"Last month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced it had reached an agreement with 10 leading automakers to make these systems standard on new cars,” ATA Chairman Pat Thomas said in a statement. “We believe our friends in the truck manufacturing community and the rest of the automakers should join them in putting automatic emergency braking systems on all new vehicles sold in the United States.”