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FMCSA & NHTSA propose heavy vehicle automatic emergency brake rule

Updated: Jun 27, 2023



The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a joint Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on June 22, 2023, which would mandate that all newly-manufactured heavy trucks and buses be equipped with Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) systems.


“Advanced driver assistance systems like AEB have the power to save lives,” said NHTSA Chief Counsel Ann Carlson. “Today’s announcement is an important step forward in improving safety on our nation’s roadways by reducing, and ultimately eliminating, preventable tragedies that harm Americans.”


AEB systems rely on sensors to detect imminent crashes and then automatically apply to the brakes in attempt to avoid them. The proposed rule would require AEB to work at speeds ranging between low-speed (6 miles per hour) and high-speed (roughly 50 miles per hour) situations.



According to the NPRM, which is available here, AEBs would be required on all "heavy vehicles," meaning those with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 lbs.


NHTSA is proposing a two-tiered phase-in schedule. For vehicles currently subject to FMVSS No. 136, “Electronic stability control systems for heavy vehicles,” any vehicle manufactured on or after September 1 that is three years after the date of publication of the final rule would be required to meet the proposed heavy vehicle AEB standard. For vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds) not currently subject to FMVSS No. 136, any vehicle manufactured on or after the first September 1 that is four years after the date of publication of the final rule would be required to meet the proposed AEB requirements and the proposed amendments to the ESC requirements.


For FMCSA's part, it is proposing the following:


Vehicles currently subject to FMVSS No. 136 would be required to comply with FMCSA’s proposed ESC regulation on the final rule’s effective date. Vehicles with a GVWR greater than 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds) not currently subject to FMVSS No. 136 would be required to meet the proposed ESC regulation on or after the first September 1 that is five years after the date of publication of the final rule.

In addition, for vehicles currently subject to FMVSS No. 136, any vehicle manufactured on or after the first September 1 that is three years after the date of publication of the final rule would be required to meet FMCSA’s proposed AEB regulation. FMCSA proposes that vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds) not currently subject to FMVSS No. 136 and vehicles supplied to motor carriers by small-volume manufacturers, final-stage manufacturers, and alterers would be required to meet the proposed AEB regulation on or after the first September 1 that is five years after the date of publication of the final rule.


In short, these requirements will apply to newly-manufactured vehicles as of the above-mentioned compliance dates. NHTSA and FMCSA are NOT proposing that existing vehicles must be retrofitted to meet these requirements.


The NPRM is lengthy--254 pages. The agencies are seeking "comments and suggestions on any aspect of this proposal and any alternative requirements to address this safety problem. NHTSA and FMCSA also request comments on the proposed lead time for meeting these requirements, and how the lead time can be structured to maximize the benefits that can be realized most quickly while ensuring that the standard is practicable. Finally, NHTSA and FMCSA seek comment on whether and how this proposal may disproportionately impact small businesses and how NHTSA and FMCSA could revise this proposal to minimize any disproportionate impact."


For now, the comment period will be open through late August. Those interested in submitting comments should do so in Docket Nos. NHTSA-2023-0023 or FMCSA-2022-0171.


Trucksafe will continue to monitor the status of this rulemaking and will update this article with additional details.


About Trucksafe Consulting, LLC: Trucksafe Consulting is a full-service DOT regulatory compliance consulting and training service. We help carriers develop, implement, and improve their safety programs, through personalized services, industry-leading training, and a library of educational content. Trucksafe also hosts a monthly live show on its various social media channels called Trucksafe LIVE! to discuss hot-button issues impacting highway transportation. Trucksafe is owned and operated by Brandon Wiseman and Jerad Childress, transportation attorneys who have assisted some of the nation’s leading fleets to develop and maintain cutting-edge safety programs. You can learn more about Trucksafe online at www.trucksafe.com and by following Trucksafe on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

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