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October 19, 2015 3:00 PM, EDT

NHTSA Grants Petition on Collision-Avoidance Systems

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has granted a petition for rulemaking filed by several safety groups that could be the first step toward adoption of a proposed mandate to require automatic forward collision systems on heavy vehicles.

The petition for rulemaking, submitted Feb. 19 by the Truck Safety Coalition, Center for Auto Safety, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and Road Safe America, asked NHTSA to require vehicle manufacturers to install forward collision-avoidance and mitigation systems on all vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or more. The petitioners claimed that the systems have the potential to provide significant safety, economic and societal benefits.

In the petition approval document posted in the Federal Register on Oct. 16, the agency said it has been studying the systems for several years and will “continue to conduct research and to evaluate real-world performance of these systems through track testing and field operational testing.”

Based on this research, the agency said it agrees with the petitioners that the systems have the potential to save lives by preventing or reducing the severity of rear-end crashes.

“NHTSA will determine whether to issue a rule in the course of the rulemaking proceeding, in accordance with statutory criteria,” the agency said.

In May, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance submitted a letter supporting the petition for rulemaking, but recommended that the mandate apply to vehicles with a GVWR of 10,001 pounds or more to better conform to existing commercial motor vehicle safety classes.  

The European Union Commission already requires that an advanced emergency braking system with forward collision warning be installed on most new heavy vehicles, with some exceptions, NHTSA said.

NHTSA said granting the petition does not mean that the agency will issue a final rule.

“The determination of whether to issue a rule is made after study of the requested action and the various alternatives in the course of the rulemaking proceeding,” the agency said.

NHTSA said it is accepting comments on its posting but did not indicate how long comments will be accepted.