Major global carmakers pledged Friday to install auto-braking technology as a standard feature for vehicles sold in the US market, government and safety officials announced.
The technology, which is already an option on some cars, uses on-vehicle sensors to detect a possible collision and applies brakes if the driver fails to respond to warning sounds.
Because human error and driver distraction are key factors in many road accidents, the auto emergency braking (AEB) technology is expected to substantially reduce rear-end collisions and other accidents.
"We are entering a new era of vehicle safety, focused on preventing crashes from ever occurring, rather than just protecting occupants when crashes happen," said US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, making the announcement at an event hosted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
"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."
Ten automakers, whose cars account for more than half the US market, agreed to make the auto-braking technology a standard feature: Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo.
"The evidence is mounting that AEB is making a difference," said insurance institute president Adrian Lund.
"Most crashes involve driver error. This technology can compensate for the mistakes every driver makes because the systems are always on alert, monitoring the road ahead and never getting tired or distracted."
Lund said several studies including one from the institute shows the auto-braking technology can reduce insurance injury claims by as much as 35 percent.
The announcement did not include a specific timetable for deployment of the new systems. Transportation officials said they would be urging the other carmakers to join the pledge to make the technology standard as soon as possible.