AAA: Not All Automatic Braking Systems Are Created Equally

Ok, so this is kind of a given, but the American Automobile Association wants drivers to know that not all automatic braking systems are created equally. This is no real surprise, but something many drivers may not think about when choosing a vehicle so it’s worth mentioning.

AAA conducted its own tests and found that automatic braking systems vary widely. Some are designed to completely avoid crashes, and others just to reduce potential damage, not to completely stop a moving car. (By the way, AAA says men are more likely than women to trust automatic emergency braking, 49% vs. 40%.)

AAA researchers tested five 2016 models: the Volvo XC90, Subaru Legacy, Honda Civic, VW Passat and the Lincoln MKX. The vehicles had one of two types of automatic braking systems: either a collision avoidance system, which attempts to avoid a crash all together, OR a collision mitigation system that just tries to slow down to reduce damage.

They tested them in both ideal conditions, at speeds of 20-30 miles per hour and also more real-world conditions at speeds of 45 or over. You can find the complete testing guidelines here.


Basically, AAA determined complete avoidance systems worked better overall in both ideal and real-world scenarios.  The prevented between 40 and 60 percent of crashes. That’s twice that of systems designed to merely avoid damage. Mitigation systems were pretty useless at speeds above 30mph. The brakes were only able to reduce vehicle speed by 9 percent overall.

According to AAA, nearly 40 percent of U.S. drivers want automatic emergency braking on their next vehicle. The industry recently moved to make automatic braking systems standard on most new cars by 2022. Some carmakers, like Toyota, are doing it even sooner. The new systems are also being incorporated into updated crash test rating systems.

Photo Credit: AAA
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