Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announcement

ARLINGTON, Va. — Now that nearly every new vehicle comes with automatic emergency braking (AEB), the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is looking for ways to encourage even better systems that can prevent more severe front-to-rear crashes that occur at higher speeds.

Through its ratings of front crash prevention systems and an industry commitment it helped facilitate, IIHS sought to make AEB systems virtually universal. This goal has been achieved. Under the voluntary commitment brokered by IIHS and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 12 out of 20 major automobile manufacturers equipped nearly all the light vehicles they produce for the U.S. market with AEB last year — well ahead of the September 2022 target.

The technology is already slashing crash rates by as much as half for vehicles equipped with it. However, the test that IIHS uses to evaluate AEB systems only represents a slim fraction of the rear-end crashes AEB is designed to mitigate, a new IIHS study shows.

“Thankfully, in the real world, AEB systems are preventing crashes at higher speeds than the maximum 25 mph our test program uses,” said IIHS Senior Research Scientist David Kidd, the author of the new paper. “The problem is that our current evaluation doesn’t tell us how well specific systems perform at those speeds.”

IIHS introduced the vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention test in 2013 and made a basic, advanced or superior rating a requirement for a 2014 TOP SAFETY PICK+ award. Since 2017, an advanced or superior rating — which is also the level of performance specified under the manufacturers’ commitment — has been necessary for the lower-tier TOP SAFETY PICK.

But the success of the program means that the test no longer effectively differentiates among systems: About 85 percent of the 2022 model year vehicles IIHS has evaluated so far earn a superior rating. For this reason, the Institute is dropping the vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention from the award criteria next year, though vehicle-to-pedestrian tests will still be required. Kidd’s study is the first step in determining whether the vehicle-to-vehicle test should be replaced and, if so, with what.

The soon-to-be-obsolete evaluation simulates front-to-rear crashes in which a vehicle approaches another vehicle stopped in the road. The test is conducted at both 12 and 25 mph. When the test program was being developed, the goal was to promote the adoption of functional front crash prevention systems, and research tests showed that those that performed best at 12 and 25 mph also did best at higher speeds.

To view the entire announcement, click HERE.