Automatic emergency braking: Not Good at preventing crashes at average speeds

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) controls low-speed rear-end crashes but sort of sucks when vehicles are traversing at more average speeds, according to a new study from the American Automobile Association (AAA).

AAA tested four vehicles fitted with AEB and found that the system failed to prevent the most common crashes at average speeds. Automatic emergency braking is not ideal for avoiding collisions at standard rates.

All new cars in the US must come standard with AEB, starting by September 2022, which uses forward-facing cameras and other sensors to apply the brakes while a collision is close. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety assesses that AEB may help avert 28,000 crashes and 12,000 damages by 2025.

AAA liked to put AEB to the test to notice how it’s progressed using four standard vehicles since first rolling out to display vehicles about 20 years ago. But unfortunately, what they discovered was not that significant.

“Automatic Emergency Braking does well at diving into the limited task it was conceived to do,” said Greg Brannon, administrator of AAA’s automotive engineering and industry associations, in a comment. “Unfortunately, that job was drawn up years ago, and regulator’s slow-speed impact criteria haven’t evolved.”

“Automatic Emergency Braking does satisfactorily at tackling the limited task it was created to do.”

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

AEB has verified itself as helpful in facilitating low-speed rear-end crashes. Still, AAA wanted to see how well it performs in two more common and deadly crash scenarios: T-bones and left bends in the facade of oncoming vehicles. From 2016 to 2020, these two kinds of crashes accounted for almost 40 percent of total fatalities involving two passenger vehicles in which the striking vehicle did not lose traction or leave the lane before the crash.

The results were appealing and dispiriting. In both the T-bones and left bends in front of oncoming vehicle tests, AEB failed to deter 100 percent of crashes orchestrated by AAA. The system also failed to forewarn the motorist and slow the vehicle’s pace.

In rear-end collision testing, AEB executed a little better — as long as the speed was kept low. At 30mph, the system stopped 17 out of 20 crashes, or 85 percent. For the test runs that showed in a collision, the impact speed declined by 86 percent. But at 40mph, AEB only thwarted six out of 20 rear-end collisions, or 30 percent. Again, the impact speed was reduced by 62 percent for test runs that resulted in a crash.

It isn’t the first time that AAA has emphasized the shortcoming of automatic braking and other driver-assist attributes. For example, a 2019 study discovered that AEB was awful at preventing cars from maneuvering over dummy pedestrians at velocities of 20mph.

These studies will undoubtedly echo with automakers that have made stopping traffic crashes and fatalities a vital goal. Meanwhile, regulators are emphasizing the auto industry to do more to deter reckless driving.