AAA tests show that auto emergency braking systems vary greatly

New test results from AAA apparently show that automatic emergency braking systems vary greatly in design and performance.

All the systems tested by AAA reportedly are designed to apply the brakes when a driver does not engage it themselves however, those that are designed to prevent crashes reduced vehicle speeds by nearly twice that of those designed to lessen crash severity.

AAA officials say that while any reduction in speed offers a significant safety benefit to drivers, they warn that automatic braking systems are not all designed to prevent collisions and they urge consumers to fully understand system limitations before getting behind the wheel.

“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 Ben Perricone, Territory Manager of AAA’s Approved Auto 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 release, AAA and the  Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, looked at five 2016 model-year vehicles equipped with automatic emergency braking systems for performance within system limitations and in real-world driving scenarios that were designed to test the technology’s limits.

Officials say that systems were tested and compared based on the capabilities and limitations stated in the owner’s manuals and grouped into two categories:

  • Those designed to slow or stop the vehicle enough to prevent crashes
  • Those designed to slow the vehicle to lessen crash severity.

After more than 70 trials, tests reportedly showed:

  • In terms of overall speed reduction, the systems designed to prevent crashes reduced vehicle speeds by twice that of systems that are designed to only lessen crash severity, 79 percent speed reduction vs. 40 percent speed reduction.
  • With speed differentials of under 30 mph, systems designed to prevent crashes successfully avoided collisions in 60 percent of test scenarios.
    • Surprisingly, the systems designed to only lessen crash severity were able to completely avoid crashes in nearly one-third of test scenarios.
  • When pushed beyond stated system limitations and proposed federal requirements, the variation among systems became more pronounced.
    • When traveling at 45 mph and approaching a static vehicle, the systems designed to prevent crashes reduced speeds by 74 percent overall and avoided crashes in 40 percent of scenarios. In contrast, systems designed to lessen crash severity were only able to reduce vehicle speed by 9 percent overall.

“Automatic emergency braking systems have the potential to drastically reduce the risk of injury from a crash,” said Perricone. “When traveling at 30 mph, a speed reduction of just 10 mph can reduce the energy of crash impact by more than 50 percent.”

AAA also says it surveyed U.S. drivers so they could understand consumer purchase habits and trust of automatic emergency braking systems.
AAA reported their findings as:

  • Nine percent of U.S. drivers currently have automatic emergency braking on their vehicle.
  • Nearly 40 percent of U.S. drivers want automatic emergency braking on their next vehicle.
    • Men are more likely to want an automatic emergency braking system in their next vehicle (42 percent) than female drivers (35 percent).
  • Two out of five U.S. drivers trust automatic emergency braking to work.
    • Drivers who currently own a vehicle equipped with automatic emergency braking system are more likely to trust it to work compared to drivers that have not experienced the technology.

“When shopping for a new vehicle, AAA recommends considering one equipped with an automatic emergency braking system,” continued Perricone. “However, 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.”

According to the AAA release, for its potential to reduce crash severity, 22 automakers representing 99 percent of vehicle sales have committed to making automatic emergency braking systems standard on all new vehicles by 2022.

The U.S. Department of Transportation reportedly said this voluntary agreement will make the safety feature available on new cars up to three years sooner than could be achieved through the formal regulatory process.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, rear-end collisions, which automatic emergency braking systems are designed to mitigate, result in nearly 2,000 fatalities and more than 500,000 injuries annually.

Currently, 10 percent of new vehicles apparently have automatic emergency braking as standard equipment, and more than half of new vehicles offer the feature as an option.

AAA’s testing of automatic emergency braking systems was reportedly conducted on a closed course at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

Officials say it was done using instrumented vehicles and a state-of the-art robotic “soft car” that allowed for collisions without vehicle damage, AAA collected vehicle separation, speed and deceleration data in a variety of crash scenarios designed to mirror real-world driving conditions.

The testing was apparently designed to build on previous testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

For more information, visit this AAA website.

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