Safety standards in the automotive industry have become much stricter in recent years and now cover more than just the vehicle’s active safety system in the event of an accident. Europe’s Renault Zoe serves as an excellent example – the car that received the highest safety rating a few years ago is now rated as a zero star vehicle (out of five stars) due to the absence of automatic emergency braking.
The American Insurance Institute for Highway Safety wants to encourage automakers to not only standardize AEB on all vehicles but also make the system work better. The safety organization believes that AEB’s current testing program no longer evaluates the system accurately as it is carried out at a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour. IIHS is now considering increasing that speed significantly.
“Fortunately, in the real world, the AEB system prevents collisions at speeds higher than the 25 mph maximum speed our test program uses,” said David Kidd, IIHS Senior Research Scientist. “The problem is that our current evaluation doesn’t tell us how well a particular system will perform at that speed.”
Or, to put it simply, when the test was originally designed, the goal was to promote the adoption of automatic emergency braking. As a result, 12 of the 20 major automakers now sell nearly all of their light vehicles with AEB as standard for the US market. The percentage is increasing but IIHS wants to encourage manufacturers to develop better systems.
So, what’s the plan? Based on a new survey of the speeds and conditions under which the most fatal traffic accidents occur in the US, IIHS will conduct a research test with six AEB-equipped vehicles at speeds of up to 45 mph.
At this speed, the evaluation will be relevant to 43 percent of police-reported rear-end crashes and 12 percent of fatal rear-end crashes, making the test more up-to-date. By comparison, current, soon-to-be-obsolete tests account for only three percent of police-reported rear-end crashes.