The Big Q: How Effective is AEB?

The Big Q: How Effective is AEB?

The Big Q: How Effective is AEB?

AAA together with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center recently tested 5 vehicles with AEB (automatic emergency breaking).

They were sorted into 2 categories: systems designed to reduce impact, and those meant to prevent collisions altogether. The 5 vehicles, all model Y 2016, underwent a series of trials on a closed course.

AAA used a robotic “soft car” that prevented damage to the vehicles during impacts.

When testing the vehicles within the performance capabilities outlined in their owner’s manuals, researchers found variations between the systems when it came to decreasing speeds and avoiding collisions.

Vehicles with AEB systems designed to prevent crashes:

  • Reduced speeds by 79%
  • Avoided collisions in 60% of tests with speed differentials below 30 mph

Vehicles with AEB systems designed to lessen crash severity:

  • Reduced speeds by 40%
  • Avoided collisions in 33% of tests with speed differentials below 30 mph

Differences between the systems became more apparent once pushed beyond their stated limitations.

When approaching a stationary vehicle at 45 mph, vehicles with systems designed to prevent crashes reduced speeds by 74 percent and avoided collision in 40 percent of tests.

In contrast, vehicles with AEB systems designed to lessen crash severity were only able to reduce speeds by 9%.

How Big a Deal is AEB?

AEB is currently available on many car models, but is often part of an optional equipment package. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that making AEB standard equipment on practically all cars and light trucks by September 2022 will prevent:

28,000 crashes

12,000 injuries

Because AEB has such potential to help prevent so many crashes, 20 automakers representing more than 99 percent of the U.S. auto market have committed to making it standard by September 2022:

  • Audi
  • BMW
  • Fiat Chrysler
  • Ford
  • General Motors
  • Honda
  • Hyundai
  • Jaguar Land Rover
  • Kia
  • Maserati
  • Mazda
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • Mitsubishi
  • Nissan
  • Porsche
  • Subaru
  • Tesla
  • Toyota
  • Volkswagen
  • Volvo

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also plans to rate the systems under its 5-Star Safety Ratings program starting in model Y 2018. Learn more about how NHTSA and IIHS conduct crash test safety testing.

How Does This Affect Drivers?

In a recent survey, AAA found that nearly 40% of US drivers want to have AEB on their next vehicle. However, only 9 percent of drivers said their current vehicle has AEB.

Here’s what AAA recommends the next time you’re looking to buy a new car.


Consider a vehicle with AEB.
In 2014, rear-end collisions and crashes involving pedestrians led to a total of nearly 7,000 deaths and over 580,000 injuries in the U.S. Automatic Emergency Breaking can help mitigate and possibly prevent such collisions.


Stay alert on the road.
Though the system has benefits, it should not be seen as a substitute for an engaged driver. Remain diligent when you are behind the wheel, even if your vehicle is equipped with AEB.


Know your car’s limitations.
As demonstrated in the AAA tests, not all systems perform the same. A driver should be aware of the capabilities of the system in general, and any technology that comes with their vehicle specifically.

Source: American Automobile Association, “Hit The Brakes: Not All Self-Braking Cars Designed to Stop,” August 10, 2016; and “Fact Sheet: Automatic Emergency Braking,” August 10, 2016

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