Automatic emergency braking is not effective in preventing collisions at normal speeds

A test vehicle crashes into a dummy car.
AAA says the auto industry needs to update its testing protocols for AEB. | Picture: AAA

According to new research from the American Automobile Association (AAA), Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) is quite effective at preventing rear-end collisions at low speeds, but it sucks a bit when vehicles are traveling at more normal speeds. .

From September 2022, all new cars sold in the United States must come standard with AEB, which uses forward-facing cameras and other sensors to automatically apply the brakes when a crash is imminent. . The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that AEB could help prevent 28,000 crashes and 12,000 injuries by 2025.

Using four common vehicles, AAA wanted to put the AEB through its paces to see how it has progressed since it was first deployed on production vehicles nearly 20 years ago. What they found was not terrible.

“Automatic Emergency Braking performs well the limited task for which it was designed,” Greg Brannon, director of automotive engineering and industry relations at AAA, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, this task was established years ago and the regulator’s low-speed crash standards have not evolved.”

The group selected four vehicles for testing, all equipped with driver assistance features including AEB: 2022 Chevrolet Equinox LT; 2022 Ford Explorer XLT; 2022 Honda CR-V Touring; and 2022 Toyota RAV4 LE.

AEB has proven useful over the years in reducing low-speed rear-end crashes, but AAA wanted to see how well it performed in two more common – and deadlier – crash scenarios: T-bones and cornering. left in front of oncoming traffic. . From 2016 to 2020, these two crash types accounted for nearly 40% of the total fatalities in crashes involving two passenger vehicles in which the striking vehicle did not lose traction or leave the roadway prior to the collision.

The results were quite discouraging. In both T-bones and left turns in front of an oncoming vehicle, AEB failed to prevent 100% of AAA-arranged crashes. The system also failed to alert the driver and slow the speed of the vehicle.

In rear crash tests, the AEB performed a bit better – as long as the speed was kept low. At 30 mph, the system prevented 17 out of 20 accidents, or 85%. For tests that resulted in a crash, impact velocity was reduced by 86%. But at 40 mph, AEB only prevented six out of 20 rear-end collisions, or 30%. For tests that resulted in a crash, impact velocity was reduced by 62%.

This isn’t the first time AAA has highlighted the shortcomings of automatic braking and other driver assistance features. A 2019 study by the group found that AEB was terrible enough to keep cars from rolling over dummy pedestrians at speeds of 20mph.

These studies will no doubt resonate with automakers who have made the elimination of road accidents and fatalities a major goal. Meanwhile, regulators are pressuring the auto industry to do more to prevent reckless driving.

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