What is Automatic Emergency Braking?

automatic emergency braking
(Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company)

Yesterday the U.S. Department of Transportation (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announced that twenty of the world’s largest car manufacturers pledged to make automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems standard on all of their new vehicles starting no later than September of 2022. The NHTSA estimates that this commitment from automakers will make AEB systems standard three years sooner than through a formal regulatory process. The IIHS estimates that during those three years, standard AEB systems will prevent 28,000 rear-end collisions and 12,000 resulting injuries.

Automatic Emergency Braking is a forward collision mitigating safety feature that helps prevent or reduce the severity of collisions. AEB integrates radar/laser and cameras along with a computer that gauges a vehicle’s speed relative to an object (a slower or stopped vehicle, pedestrian, cyclist, etc.) in front of it. In the event of an imminent forward collision, the car’s AEB system warns the driver of the possible collision, using alert sounds, lights, and/or tactile feedback such as vibrating the steering wheel.

If the system detects that the driver is not doing enough to avoid hitting the object, i.e. the driver may be distracted, fatigued, or experiencing a medical problem, AEB will apply the brakes to stop the vehicle, ideally with enough time to avoid the collision, or at least greatly reduce its severity.

Currently, AEB systems are available on about a quarter of new cars, and the NHTSA now considers automatic braking in its 5-Star ratings. The IIHS requires new vehicles to come with AEBs in order to qualify for a Top Safety Pick+, the highest award possible. According to the IIHS, vehicles with an AEB system are 14 percent less likely to experience a forward collision than vehicles that do not have it equipped.

You can read the official press release about the automaker AEB commitment on the NHTSA’s website.

2016 IIHS Top Safety Picks

2016 Top Safety Picks
(Photo Credit: IIHS)

Each year the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) releases its list of vehicles that have received either a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ award for good ratings in all five of the standard crash-worthiness tests.

For a car or truck to earn a Top Safety Pick award, it must receive a basic rating for front crash prevention as well as good ratings in the following five crash tests: Small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints. The Top Safety Pick+ distinction was first awarded in 2013, and requires vehicles to earn an advanced or superior rating in front crash prevention, as well as qualify for Top Safety Pick in all other categories.

All of the vehicles listed are 2016 models and it is important to note that some vehicles only received a Top Safety Pick+ when purchased with the optional extra forward crash protection. This year, there were more vehicles that received Top Safety Pick+ awards, with midsize and full-size sedans leading the overall industry. The list is broken down by vehicle class, denoted by size.

You can view the list by visiting the IIHS’s website here.

IIHS Best Used Vehicles For Teens

DCF 1.0
(Photo Credit: Fotolia)

Each year the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) releases its list of the best used cars for teen drivers. Research was conducted on a wide range of factors, including statistics on claims propensity and fatalities of teen drivers based on vehicle size and type. IIHS also carried out a nationwide survey of parents to determine the choices parents make when purchasing a vehicle for their teenagers.

Results showed that while parents and teens frequently opted for cheaper, older vehicles, these choices often offered inadequate crash protection, regardless of vehicle size. 83% of teenagers were purchasing used vehicles, with the median purchase price of $5,300 and the average purchase price of $9,800. Size does matter, because while the vehicles most often purchased were midsize or full-size sedans, almost 30% of all teenage fatalities occurred in mini or small cars, with fatality rates generally decreasing as vehicle size increased.

IIHS then compiled a list of recommended used vehicles for teens based on four main criteria:

  • Lower power-to-weight ratios
  • Larger and heavier – No small cars were included
  • Includes electronic stability control
  • Received high ratings for crash protection

Once the list was compiled, Kelly Blue Book values were looked up for the recommended vehicles, and categorized as either Best Choices for teens under $20K, or Good Choices for teens under $10K for those shopping on a budget.

To view the IIHS’s list of recommended used vehicles for teen drivers, click here.

2015 IIHS Top Safety Picks

2016 Mazda 6 Small Overlap Crash Test
(Photo Credit: IIHS)

Cars keep getting safer and for 2015, the number of vehicles earning the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)’s Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ has increased from 39 to 71, indicating consumers now have more choices when shopping for a safe vehicle. According to this year’s report, Top Safety Pick+ standards were increased for many factors, driving auto manufacturers to improve vehicle performance in the new “small overlap front crash” test, as well as encouraging them to offer automatic forward-crash detection and autobrake systems on their cars.

The small overlap front crash test replicates what happens when the front corner of a car collides into another object, such as another vehicle, a tree, or utility pole. These types of crashes are very common and can be quite serious for occupants, as much of the energy-absorbing structure of the vehicle is bypassed in a small overlap. The IIHS and other organizations have been pushing manufacturers to look for solutions to overcome these vulnerabilities when designing their cars.

Historically, forward-crash detection/warning systems have been standard only on higher end vehicles. These systems are now being offered as an optional extra and sometimes even standard on more mainstream brands as the industry recognizes the benefits they can provide. The IIHS encourages manufacturers to go even further, with autobrake systems that don’t require a driver response in order to apply the vehicle’s brakes if the system detects an imminent collision. These systems can help avoid or mitigate the effects of crashes even if the driver isn’t paying attention to the road.

For more information on the IIHS’s report on their 2015 Top Safety Pick+ and Top Safety Pick winners, click here.