Automatic emergency braking would be standard equipment on most American cars within six years under an unprecedented pact announced Thursday between federal regulators and the auto industry.
The agreement was reached between the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and 20 automakers that represent nearly the entire U.S. auto market.
The so-called AEB systems, currently an option on some vehicles, would become a standard feature on nearly every new car and light-duty truck no later than 2022.
A record 17.5 million cars and light trucks were sold in the United States last year.
AEB systems use on-vehicle sensors such as cameras, lasers and radar to detect an imminent crash and apply the brakes for the driver if the driver doesnt act quickly enough.
The automakers include Ford, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Volkswagen, Kia and Tesla Motors.
The unprecedented commitment means that this important safety technology will be available to more consumers more quickly than would be possible through the regulatory process, the NHTSA said.
The agency, part of the U.S. Transportation Department, said bypassing the regulatory process would save three years in making AEB systems standard equipment.
During that three-year span, having AEB systems already built into cars would prevent 28,000 crashes and 12,000 injuries nationwide, according to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates.
Overall, having vehicles with automatic braking can reduce rear-end crashes by about 40 percent, the insurance group has estimated.
By proactively making emergency braking systems standard equipment on their vehicles, these 20 automakers will help prevent thousands of crashes and save lives, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.
Some safety advocates have sought mandatory regulations on grounds that the government-industry commitment is not enforceable.
But the NHTSA said Consumer Reports magazine would help monitor the automakers progress in meeting their commitment to install the AEB systems.
Jake Fisher, director of auto testing for Consumer Reports, said in a statement that Consumer Reports would hold automakers accountable for their commitments to making the braking systems standard equipment.