Automatic emergency braking is not great at preventing crashes at normal speeds

Technology
AAA says the auto industry needs to update their testing protocols for AEB. | Image: AAA

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) is pretty good at preventing low-speed rear-end crashes but kind of sucks when vehicles are traveling at more normal speeds, according to new research from the American Automobile Association (AAA).

Starting September 2022, all new cars sold in the US are required to 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 may help prevent 28,000 crashes and 12,000 injuries by 2025.

Using four common vehicles, AAA wanted to put AEB to the test to see how it’s progressed since first rolling out to production vehicles nearly 20 years ago. What they found was not that great.

“Automatic Emergency Braking does well at tackling the limited task it was designed to do,” said Greg Brannon, director of AAA’s automotive engineering and industry relations, in a statement. “Unfortunately, that task was drawn up years ago, and regulator’s slow-speed crash standards haven’t evolved.”

This isn’t the first time that AAA has highlighted the shortcoming of automatic braking and other driver-assist features. A 2019 study by the group found that AEB was pretty terrible at preventing cars from running over dummy pedestrians at speeds of 20mph.

These studies will no doubt resonate with automakers that have made eliminating traffic crashes and fatalities a major goal. Meanwhile, regulators are pressuring the auto industry to do more to prevent reckless driving.

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