Don’t Expect Your Car’s Automatic Emergency Braking to Save You

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  • Automatic emergency braking, known by many names across automakers, is almost a universal standard on new vehicles in the US today, but that doesn’t mean they prevent all types of rear-end collisions.
  • Official AEB tests are carried out at only 12 and 25 miles per hour. AAA decided to see if they worked well at 30 and 40 mph. They do not.
  • The AAA results are very similar to the tests we conducted three years ago on this system.

Automatic emergency braking may sound like technology that automatically brakes your car in an emergency. Logical, sure, but AAA just released the test results that its performance shows that relying on AEB is not as safe as drivers think. Especially when moving at speeds above 40 mph, the full functionality of the AEB drops to an alarming level, the non-profit association said. This didn’t surprise us, as we tested this system three years ago and found the same flaws.

Different automakers sometimes call their AEB technology different names, but they all work the same way. The front-facing sensors, which can include radar and cameras, scan the road ahead and when they detect something a moving vehicle might hit, the system applies the brakes in an attempt to, well, not crash.

In 2016, the majority of major automakers agreed to standardize AEB technology on their vehicles by 2022. Today, 20 automakers, makers of more than 99 percent of new vehicles in the US, have made AEB standard equipment on all models.

AAA and other safety groups acknowledge that AEB is working. Last year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released a new study that found AEB later helped reduce the number of insurance claims more than any other safety technology the group had studied. But preventing rear-end collisions at slower speeds, which AEB was originally designed to do, isn’t the only thing AEB can work on. The AAA says that, between 2016 and 2020, nearly 40 percent of all deaths involving two-passenger vehicles, when the crashing vehicle did not lose traction or leave the road before the collision, were T-bones and turning left in front of an oncoming vehicle. The AEB system also has difficulty working at night, as IIHS discovered earlier this year.

“Automatic emergency braking works well to cope with the limited task it was designed to perform,” Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of automotive engineering and industrial relations, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the task was created many years ago, and the regulator’s slow speed crash standards have not developed. The test requirements for this technology, or any vehicle safety system for that matter, should be updated to handle faster and more realistic speeds and speeds. scenario with the greatest safety benefit for the driver.”

aaa ford explorer aeb test


aaa testing chevrolet equinox aeb


To find out how well AEB technology works at intersections and at higher speeds, AAA decided to conduct a new series of tests using vehicles from four automakers: the 2022 Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Explorer XLT 2022, Honda CR-V Touring 2022 and Toyota RAV4 LE. 2022. Current crash standards require AEB tests to be carried out at 12 and 25 mph, not highway speeds. The AAA instead runs tests in which a vehicle traveling at 30 or 40 mph crashes into a stationary vehicle. The group also ran unprotected T-bone and left-turn tests.

The AEB prevents rear-end collisions by 85 percent when tested at 30 mph. This number drops to just 30 percent for tests at 40 mph. In the crossing test, AEB completely failed. Accidents occurred in 100 percent of AAA testing because “AEB failed to warn driver, slowed vehicle speed, [or] avoid accidents.”

It’s Still Helpful in Some Way

Despite its low success rate, AEB is still a valuable technology to have, according to the AAA, because while it can’t completely avoid accidents, the AEB system can still slow the car down enough to reduce the severity of the crash. In the 30-mph test, impact speed was reduced by 86 percent; at 40 mph, that’s 62 percent.

Automakers have adapted their AEB technology in response to customer complaints about “accidental activation” and for other reasons. Test results in hand, the AAA is now asking automakers to get their safety systems in place “to better handle the types of accidents when injuries and deaths occur frequently,” including getting AEB to handle intersection-based crash scenarios. Equally important is the message that drivers should not rely on the AEB system working as promised in an emergency.

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