Last year, 20 automakers pledged that automatic emergency braking systems would become a standard feature on 99 percent of vehicles in the U.S. car market by 2022. Here’s a closer look at how these systems work and what it means for drivers.
What is it?
Also known as forward collision mitigation, automatic braking systems are designed to either prevent a crash or to lessen its severity when a driver doesn’t apply the brakes in time. It’s important to know the differences and limitations of each system.
Is it safe?
AAA tested five 2016 model cars and found that systems designed to prevent crashes reduced vehicle speeds at twice the rate of those intended to lessen crash severity. However, when test vehicles traveled at speeds within 30 mph of each other, even systems designed to lessen crash severity prevented a collision a third of the time. Systems designed to prevent a crash avoided a collision in 60 percent of test scenarios.
What does this mean?
In 2016, automatic emergency braking was a standard feature on only 10 percent of new vehicles. By making the feature standard, as many as 28,000 crashes and 12,000 injuries could be prevented in just the first three years, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. While no feature is a match for an engaged driver, AAA recommends automatic braking to anyone shopping for a new car, as long as the driver understands the limitations, said John Paul, senior manager of traffic safety for AAA Northeast.
When other features became standard in U.S. cars:
Windshield wipers 1913
Seat belts 1968
Air bags 1998
To read about 10 car features that no longer exist, go to AAA.com/CarFeatures.