Automatic emergency braking systems are designed to hit the brakes if a collision is imminent and the driver fails to engage. This technology will soon be standard equipment on 99 percent of vehicles. Consumers should be aware that new AAA tests find these systems vary widely and are not all designed to prevent collisions.
“AAA found that two-thirds of Americans familiar with the technology believe that automatic emergency braking systems are designed to avoid crashes without driver intervention,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “The reality is that today’s systems vary greatly in performance, and many are not designed to stop a moving car.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, rear-end collisions result in nearly 2,000 fatalities and more than 500,000 injuries annually. Automatic emergency braking systems are designed to prevent these crashes or reduce their severity.
Because of the technology’s potential to save lives, in March, 20 automakers committed to making automatic emergency braking standard equipment on new vehicles by 2022.
To better understand how automakers are implementing this safety technology, AAA, in partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, evaluated five 2016 model-year vehicles equipped with automatic emergency braking.
Researchers tested and compared systems based on the capabilities and limitations stated in the owner’s manuals and grouped them into two categories: those designed to stop the vehicle to prevent crashes and those designed to slow the vehicle to lessen crash severity. After more than 70 trials, tests reveal:
Systems designed to prevent crashes reduced vehicle speeds by twice that of systems designed to lessen crash severity.
Under 30 mph, systems designed to prevent crashes successfully avoided collisions 60 percent of the time. Systems designed to lessen crash severity avoided crashes 33 percent of the time.
When pushed beyond stated system limitations and proposed federal requirements, at 45 mph, systems designed to prevent crashes avoided crashes 40 percent of the time. Those designed to lessen crash severity were only able to reduce vehicle speed by 9 percent.
“Automatic emergency braking systems have the potential to drastically reduce the risk of injury from a crash,” said Megan McKernan, manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center. “When traveling at 30 mph, a speed reduction of just 10 mph can reduce the energy of crash impact by more than 50 percent.”
In addition to the testing, AAA surveyed U.S. drivers to understand consumer purchase habits and trust of these self-braking systems. Results reveal:
- Nine percent of U.S. drivers currently have automatic emergency braking on their vehicle.
- Nearly 40 percent of U.S. drivers want this feature on their next vehicle.
- Men are more likely (42 percent) than women (35 percent) to want this feature.
- Two out of five drivers trust automatic emergency braking to work.
- Drivers who currently have this feature on their vehicle are more likely to trust it (71 percent) compared to drivers that have not experienced the technology (41 percent).
“With the proliferation of vehicle technology, it’s more important than ever for drivers to fully understand their vehicle’s capabilities and limitations before driving off the dealer lot,” said Nielsen.
Information for this story was provided by AAA. For additional information on this study, visit Newsroom.AAA.com.