Menu Close

According to recent studies published by the National Council on Workers’ Compensation (NCCI) workers’ compensation has experienced a long-term decline in overall claim frequency, thanks to automation, robotics and continued advances in workplace safety.

However, for WC Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) claims, the story is quite different, with frequency declining for many years and then suddenly turning upward. These accidents can be very severe and are responsible for a significant portion of fatal WC claims. MVA lost-time claims continue to cost over 80% more than the average lost-time claim, because MVA claims tend to involve severe injuries (e.g., head, neck, and spine).

In its 2020 update, NCCI noted that according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) “the installation of automatic emergency braking (AEB) was part of a voluntary commitment by 20 automakers to equip virtually all new passenger vehicles with low-speed AEB that includes forward collision warning by September 1, 2022. The NHTSA further noted that “manufacturers have made great strides in providing advanced safety to consumers compared to 2018, when only 30% of their new vehicles were equipped with AEB.” The the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety maintains that autobraking is making driving safer, estimating that the technology could cut rear-end collisions in half.

This month the voluntary efforts of these 20 automakers have become a mandatory requirement for all of them.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finalized Monday a new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard which makes automatic emergency braking (AEB), including pedestrian AEB, standard on all passenger cars and light trucks by September 2029. According to the agency, this safety standard is expected to significantly reduce rear-end and pedestrian crashes, saving at least 360 lives a year and preventing at least 24,000 injuries annually.

AEB systems use sensors to detect when a vehicle is close to crashing into a vehicle or pedestrian in front and automatically applies the brakes if the driver has not. The new standard requires all cars be able to stop and avoid contact with a vehicle in front of them up to 62 miles per hour and that the systems must detect pedestrians in both daylight and darkness. In addition, the standard requires that the system apply the brakes automatically up to 90 mph when a collision with a lead vehicle is imminent and up to 45 mph when a pedestrian is detected.

In June 2023, the National Safety Council (NSC) supported NHTSA’s notice of proposed rulemaking to require AEB and pedestrian AEB on new passenger cars and light trucks. The standard fulfills a provision in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to establish minimum performance standards requiring that all passenger vehicles be equipped with AEB and also aligns with the Department of Transportation’s National Roadway Safety Strategy, further embracing the Safe System Approach by directly taking a step toward making safer vehicles, a pillar of the holistic approach to roadway safety.

NSC believes the development, design, and accessibility of vehicle technology are key components to addressing the tragic trend of roadway fatalities. Improvements in vehicle safety must take into account risks to both vehicle occupants and non-occupants, and ways to mitigate these risks must be clearly communicated to the public.