Automatic emergency braking is now included or at least available on almost every new car sold in America. The system, designed to prevent collisions or reduce the severity of an accident, uses forward-facing sensors to detect impending collisions and firmly apply the car’s brakes.
Although it is successful in avoiding collisions at low speeds, recent research from the American Automobile Association, or AAA, shows that the performance of Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) drops dramatically at higher speeds and completely fails in collision scenarios at intersections.
“Automatic emergency braking performs well the limited task for which it was designed. Unfortunately, this task was established years ago and the cruise control low-speed crash standards have not evolved” , said Greg Brannon, director of automotive engineering and industry relations at AAA.
When the four 2022 model year AEB-equipped test vehicles approached a stationary vehicle from behind at 30 mph, they were able to stop in 17 of 20 tests. In tests where they did not stop, their speed was reduced by an average of 86%, which would have reduced the severity of the collision and the resulting injuries.
Increasing the test speed to 40 mph resulted in crashes in 14 of the 20 tests. Impact speed reduced by an average of 62%. These are significantly higher impact speeds than in the previous test.
In tests simulating T-Bone scenarios and left turns in front of approaching vehicles, AEB-equipped test vehicles failed 100% of the time. Not only did they not alert the driver or brake automatically, but they did not reduce collision speed at all.
“The testing requirements for this technology, or any vehicle safety system for that matter, need to be updated to handle faster, more realistic speeds and scenarios with the greatest safety benefit for drivers” , Brannon said.
Research shows that drivers should remain fully engaged in the driving task while behind the wheel, even in vehicles equipped with advanced safety and driver assistance technologies.