Automatic Emergency Braking Absent When You Need It Most

AAA research reveals AEB is better at spotting stationary vehicles, but speed poses challenges

PRESS RELEASE – New AAA test results reveal the latest generation of Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) systems cannot handle higher, realistic speeds, nor can they detect moving vehicles in their path at intersections. This can put drivers at risk, since most injuries and fatalities occur at higher speeds.

While these systems are designed to improved driver safety, AAA warns drivers not to rely on AEB to prevent collisions, and encourages automakers to focus on better design and testing to address the most devastating crashes.

What is AEB?

AEB uses forward-facing cameras and other sensors to automatically tell the car to apply the brakes when a crash is imminent. The technology has reduced rear-end crashes at slower speeds, and has been refined over the years with upgraded hardware and software.

Twenty automakers have committed to including AEB as standard equipment in their future vehicles, representing more than 99% of the U.S. automotive market. As these systems become more commonplace, it’s essential to understand their ability to prevent or mitigate common collisions.

What AAA Tested

  • Rear-end Crashes: Encountering a stationary vehicle at speeds of 30 and 40 mph (currently mandated testing speeds are 12 and 25 mph).
  • Intersection Crashes: T-bone and unprotected left turn collisions – two of the deadliest crash scenarios at intersections.

The Results

  • At 30 mph, AEB prevented a rear-end collision for 17 of 20 test runs, or 85% of the time. For the test runs that resulted in a crash, the impact speed was reduced by 86%.
  • But at 40 mph, AEB only prevented a rear-end crash in 6 of 20 test runs, or 30% of the time. For test runs that resulted in a crash, the impact speed was reduced by 62%.
  • In both the T-bone and left-turn in front of an oncoming vehicle tests, crashes occurred 100% of the time. AEB failed to alert the driver, slow the vehicle’s speed and avoid the crash.

The results show AEB performs well in lower speed rear-end test scenarios, with either crash prevention or significant speed reduction. However, the systems tested were utterly ineffective with scenarios involving an intersection and at higher speeds.

“Automatic Emergency Braking does well at tackling the limited task it was designed to do. Unfortunately, that task was drawn up years ago, and regulators’ slow-speed crash standards haven’t evolved,” said Greg Brannon, director of AAA’s automotive engineering and industry relations. “Testing requirements for this technology, or any vehicle safety system for that matter, must be updated to handle faster, more realistic speeds and scenarios with the greatest safety benefit for drivers.”

What’s Next

AAA strongly urges automakers and regulatory agencies to focus on system design and test protocols to better handle the types of crashes when injuries and fatalities commonly occur.

  • Automakers must improve AEB systems to assist drivers in intersection-based crash scenarios.
  • Drivers must recognize an AEB system’s limitations and remain engaged when behind the wheel.

Methodology

AAA selected four vehicles for testing, choosing two of each driver monitoring design type, camera-equipped and input from the steering wheel. AAA does not rate vehicle performance. The vehicles were as follows:

  • 2022 Chevrolet Equinox LT with “Chevy Safety Assist”
  • 2022 Ford Explorer XLT with “Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking”
  • 2022 Honda CR-V Touring with “Honda Sensing”
  • 2022 Toyota RAV4 LE with “Toyota Sensing”

The vehicles were procured directly from the manufacturer or specialty rental fleets. To ensure the proper functioning of the AEB system, all vehicles were serviced at dealerships. Please refer to the full report for methodology details, including specific testing equipment and test track characteristics.

About AAA

Started in 1902 by automotive enthusiasts who wanted to chart a path for better roads in America and advocate for safe mobility, AAA has transformed into one of North America’s largest membership organizations. Today, AAA provides roadside assistance, travel, discounts, financial and insurance services to enhance the life journey of 63 million members. To learn more about all AAA, visit AAA.com.

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Media Contact: Kimberly Schwind, kschwind@aaaohio.com, 614-431-7896

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