Study Finds Significant Improvements in Emergency Braking Systems

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IHS) has released ratings for new safety systems designed to help motorists avoid front-to-rear collisions, including automatic braking systems which received overall high marks from the nonprofit organization.

Referring to emergency braking systems, IHS executive vice president and chief research officer David Zuby said, “We know that this technology is helping drivers avoid crashes. We are already seeing improvements from automakers since the initial launch of our ratings last September.” Zuby said BMW and Lexus received higher ratings in the most recent test precisely because of recent enhancements to their automatic emergency braking systems.

Today’s advanced front impact preventions systems use cameras, radar and lasers, and computer software to calculate when the vehicle you’re driving is in danger of colliding with a vehicle or other object in your forward trajectory.  Most of these systems emit a warning and pre-charge the vehicle’s brakes to make them more responsive if the driver responds by applying the brake pedal. Some systems automatically apply the brakes if the driver fails to respond to the warning alarm, while others autonomously apply the brakes without issuing a warning.

Zuby says, “The advantage of autobrake is that even in cases where a crash can’t be avoided entirely, the system will reduce speed. Reducing the speed reduces the amount of damage that occurs to both the striking and struck cars and reduces injuries to people in those cars.”

A total of 24 cars and SUVs were rated on their ability to prevent front end crashes at speeds of 12 and 25 mph. Eight of the models tested received Superior ratings, while 13 were rated as Advanced.  The remaining three models were rated as Basic.

The 2014 BMW 5 Series and BMW XS, and 2015 Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Hyundai Genesis all received perfect scores.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is considering requiring automatic emergency braking systems as standard equipment on all new vehicles sold in the U.S. The systems are currently sold as optional safety features.

The number of vehicles featuring automatic braking has doubled in the past couple of years according to the Institute.  Nearly 40 percent of all 2014 models sold in the U.S. offer optional autobrake systems, but Zuby says, “Sorting through the various trade names and features can be confusing, even if you’re looking at models from the same manufacturer.” He recommends consumers visit prior to purchasing a new vehicle to learn more about the available safety features for specific makes and models.

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