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The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Automatic Braking Cutting Rear-End Crashes

January 28, 2016

A new IIHS study examines the effectiveness of forward collision warning systems -- with and without automatic emergency braking. Photo courtesy of IIHS.
A new IIHS study examines the effectiveness of forward collision warning systems -- with and without automatic emergency braking. Photo courtesy of IIHS.

Vehicles equipped with both forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking reduce rear-end collision rates by 39% and also reduce rates of rear-end crashes with injuries by 42%, according to a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Researchers also found that vehicles equipped with forward collision warning alone cut rear-end crash rates by 23%.

The study examines the effectiveness of forward collision warning systems — with and without automatic emergency braking — and relies on 2010-2014 police-reported crash data from 22 states to analyze rear-end crash rates.

“Approximately 700,000 U.S. police-reported rear-end crashes in 2013 and 300,000 injuries in such crashes could have been prevented if all vehicles were equipped with FCW [forward collision warning] with AEB [autonomous or automatic emergency braking] that performs similarly as it did for study vehicles,” the study stated.

Study author Jessica B. Cicchino looked at vehicle models that offered front crash prevention as an optional feature. Included were models from Acura, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo and Subaru. The crash rates of vehicles equipped with the technology were compared against the crash rates of the same models without the optional front crash prevention.

Additionally, there was a separate analysis of Volvo's City Safety, a standard low-speed autobrake system. City Safety reduces rear-end crash rates by 41% and rates of rear-end crashes with injuries by 47%, the research indicated.

“The success of front crash prevention represents a big step toward safer roads,” said David Zuby, IIHS chief research officer. “As this technology becomes more widespread, we can expect to see noticeably fewer rear-end crashes. The same goes for the whiplash injuries that often result from these crashes and can cause a lot of pain and lost productivity.”

In September, 10 major automakers committed to making automatic emergency braking a standard feature on all new vehicles built. The 10 automakers are Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo.

Automatic emergency braking systems use on-vehicle sensors such as radar, cameras or lasers to detect an imminent crash, warn the driver and, if the driver doesn’t take sufficient action, engage the brakes.

To download the study, click here.

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