Almost all of the cars, pickup trucks and SUVs in dealer showrooms in Florida and the rest of the country have automatic braking systems. The technology was rare just a few years ago, but now more than 90% of the passenger vehicles sold in the United States have the feature as standard equipment. These systems use cameras and sensors to detect obstacles in the roadway and apply vehicle brakes automatically when human drivers fail to take evasive action. Some studies suggest that AEB systems will reduce rear-end collisions and injuries significantly, but other researchers have concluded that the technology is ineffective in many situations.
In November 2022, researchers from the Partnership for Analytics Research in Traffic Safety studied approximately 12 million National Highway Traffic Safety Administration motor vehicle accident reports to find out if the vehicles involved would have avoided crashing if they had been equipped with AEB systems. They concluded that a combination of collision alert and AEB systems would have reduced rear-end collisions by 49% and rear-end accident injuries by 53%.
When the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tested four vehicles equipped with collision alert an AEB systems in real-world situations, the results were mixed. The technology stopped or significantly slowed vehicles traveling at 30 mph 85% of the time, but that figure fell to 30% when test vehicle speeds were increased to 40 mph. The technology fared even worse when it was tested at night. Only four of the 23 vehicles the IIHS tested in poor light did not strike a mannequin in the roadway.
Too much trust
AEB systems improve road safety and will probably save a lot of lives, but they may not be quite as capable as auto manufacturers claim. This has created a situation where drivers may be placing too much trust in technology that is quite new and still being developed.