US vehicle safety regulators announced on Thursday (17 March) 20 automakers have agreed to make automatic emergency braking standard on nearly all US vehicles by 2022, a move that could prevent thousands of rear-end crashes annually.

According to a Reuters report from a press conference at a federal highway facility in McLean, Virginia, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) hailed the voluntary commitment by 20 automakers representing more than 99% of US vehicle sales. They include General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Volkswagen, Daimler, Nissan Motor and Honda.

Reuters had reported the planned agreement on Wednesday.

The report noted that, in 2012, rear end crashes killed 1,705 people and injured 547,000 in the US. About 87% of the deaths and injuries might have been prevented or lessened if vehicles had a collision avoidance system — because they were linked to driver inattention, researchers found.

The NHTSA estimated the agreement will make automatic emergency braking standard on new cars two years faster than could be achieved if it began the process to legally require the technology.

The agreement will make the technology standard on virtually all light-duty cars and trucks with a gross vehicle weight of 8,500 lbs. or less, beginning no later than 1 September, 2022.

The technology will be standard on virtually all trucks with a gross vehicle weight between 8,501 lbs. and 10,000 lbs., beginning no later than 1 September, 2025.

But the agreement is not legally enforceable and some critics want the agency to make it legally required, Reuters noted.

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