AAA testing AEBs-Photo courtesy AAA

AAA testing AEBs-Photo courtesy AAA

Automatic emergency braking systems are a safety feature that 20 automakers have committed to making standard on nearly all new cars and trucks by 2022. Many current models already have an automatic braking feature available as an option.

But there is a distinct lack of understanding among consumers about automatic braking systems. So says a report from the American Automobile Association (AAA), which finds that the confusion centers around the fact that not all braking systems aren’t necessarily designed to prevent crashes.

Volvo City Safety with Autobrake-Intersection

Volvo City Safety with Autobrake-Intersection

The study was conducted by the AAA’s Southern California Automotive Research Center, with testing conducted at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Five 2016 model year vehicles tested included the Honda Civic, Volkswagen Passat, Volvo XC90, Subaru Legacy and Lincoln MKX. The AAA also surveyed 1,000 adult drivers in the U.S. to gauge their buying habits and trust of automatic emergency braking systems.

The systems in these five vehicles were tested and compared based on the capabilities and limitations as listed in their respective owner’s manuals. Systems were then grouped into two categories: those designed to prevent crashes, and those designed to lessen the severity of a crash.

The report findings include:

  • Systems capable of preventing vehicle crashes reduced vehicle speeds by twice that of systems designed to reduce crash severity.
    • Tested vehicles were traveling at under 30 miles per hour and in those with automatic emergency braking systems designed to prevent crashes were successfully able to avoid collision 60 percent of the time.
    • Vehicles with automatic emergency braking systems designed to reduce crash severity were only able to avoid crashes 33 percent of the time.
  • During testing at 45 miles per hour, and approaching a static vehicle, the systems designed to prevent crashes reduced speeds by 74 percent overall and avoided crashes 40 percent of the time.
    • Meanwhile, vehicles with systems designed only to reduce crash severity were only able to reduce vehicle speed by 9 percent overall.
  • Automatic emergency braking systems are currently standard on 10 percent of new vehicles, while 53 percent of new vehicles have it as an optional package.
  • In the survey, 9 percent of respondents said their cars were equipped with automatic emergency braking.
  • Among consumers aware of the technology, 68 percent believe automatic emergency braking systems are designed to avoid a collision by bringing the vehicle to a complete stop.
  • 39 percent of the drivers surveyed said they wanted automatic emergency braking on their next vehicle.
    • More men (42 percent) versus women (35 percent) are likely to look for this technology on a new vehicle.
  • Overall, 44 percent of those surveyed said they trusted the automatic emergency braking technology to work as it is described.
    • Drivers who already have this technology in their vehicles are more likely to trust it (71 percent) than those who don’t have it in their vehicles (41 percent).
    • More men (49 percent) than women (40 percent) are likely to trust automatic emergency braking.
2016 Genesis

2016 Genesis

According to the AAA, the lack of consumer understanding of the different automatic emergency braking systems available today could lead to then placing too much confidence in the systems. This could result in an overreliance on the technology and the consumer taking greater risks while driving.

In a statement, John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair, said, “The reality is that today’s systems vary greatly in performance, and many are not designed to stop a moving car.”

AAA Recommendations

In the report, the AAA has three general recommendations for consumers about vehicles with automatic emergency braking systems:

  • Automatic emergency braking systems (AEBs) are never a substitute for an engaged driver. Never rely on the system to apply the brakes.
  • The AAA found that automatic emergency braking systems are effective in mitigating crash severity. The organization urges drivers to consider this technology when they are contemplating a new vehicle purchase.
  • Since not all automatic emergency braking systems are equal, drivers need to know the capabilities – as well as the limitations – of the vehicle’s technology before they get behind the wheel and drive.
Automatic Emergency Braking-NHTSA

Automatic Emergency Braking-NHTSA

Automakers Committed to Standard AEBs in Cars by 2022

Earlier this year, the following automakers pledged to have automatic emergency braking systems standard in their vehicles by 2022:

  • Audi
  • BMW
  • Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA)
  • General Motors
  • Ford
  • Honda
  • Hyundai
  • Jaguar Land Rover
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • Mazda
  • Mitsubishi
  • Kia
  • Maserati
  • Nissan
  • Porsche
  • Subaru
  • Tesla
  • Toyota
  • Volkswagen
  • Volvo

A report in Fortune says that Toyota’s announced plans to have AEBs standard in 25 of its 30 Toyota and Lexus models by the end of 2017 puts the Japanese automaker five years ahead of the industry-wide agreed-upon deadline for the safety feature. That agreement was announced in March of this year by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

What’s Your Take?

Here at, we’re interested in what you think of the AAA’s report. Do you have automatic emergency braking on your current vehicle? If so, how confident are you that you know the safety feature’s capabilities and limitations.

If you are now or will be in the market for a new vehicle, will you consider automatic emergency braking as one of the must-have features in your purchase or lease of the vehicle? If so, why? If not, why?

Or, are you planning to wait until 2022 when the safety feature is standard equipment as promised by 20 automakers?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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