At the end of the month all new cars sold in the US are required to come standard with AEB, which uses forward-facing cameras and other sensors to automatically apply the brakes when a crash is imminent. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that AEB may help prevent 28,000 crashes and 12,000 injuries by 2025.
It has been around for nearly 20 years, although only the most expensive cars had it and according to the AAA it is snake oil.
Greg Brannon, director of AAA’s automotive engineering and industry relations, said in a statement: “Automatic Emergency Braking does well at tackling the limited task it was designed to do. Unfortunately, that task was drawn up years ago, and regulator’s slow-speed crash standards haven’t evolved.”
AEB has proven itself useful over the years at reducing low-speed rear-end crashes but more deadly crash scenarios it is as useful as a chocolate teapot. This is important as from 2016 to 2020, these two types of crashes accounted for nearly 40 percent of total fatalities in crashes involving two passenger vehicles in which the striking vehicle did not lose traction or leave the roadway before the collision.
AEB failed to prevent any of the crashes staged by AAA, it also didn't alert the driver or slow the vehicle’s speed.
In rear-end collision testing, AEB performed a little better — as long as the speed was kept low. At 30mph, the system prevented 17 out of 20 crashes, or 85 percent. For the test runs that resulted in a crash, the impact speed was reduced by 86 percent. But at 40mph, AEB only prevented six out of 20 rear-end collisions, or 30 percent. For test runs that resulted in a crash, the impact speed was reduced by 62 percent.