Today’s cars offer safety features that would have been unthinkable 10 years ago. Safety engineers across the industry have Back View of a Car and a Brake Lightfocused on technology that removes the most unpredictable piece of the car accident puzzle—the driver—as they develop features to keep drivers and passengers safe on the road. One of the most successful new safety features—automatic emergency braking—is currently available mostly on higher-end vehicles that come with a steep price tag. Now, thanks to cooperation among automakers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), this feature will become standard on nearly all new cars within six years.

How Automatic Braking Systems Work

With a lot of talk recently about autonomous, or self-driving, cars being a part of our very near future, it’s not surprising that some autonomous technology is already in everyday use. Automatic emergency braking (AEB) is one example of this new technology. Already available as an option on many cars, each automaker’s system uses different technology to accomplish the same thing: stopping a car before it hits an obstacle in front of it when the driver is not responding. Using either cameras or laser sensors, AEB systems constantly scan the road in front of the vehicle for obstacles and feed this information back to the car’s computer. When the system senses an obstacle and the driver does not take action—either steering away or applying the brakes—the car will apply the brakes in an effort to stop the car.

These systems are designed to completely stop a car traveling under 20 mph, but the main goal is to minimize the impact and reduce the likelihood of injuries. Obviously, if an inattentive driver doesn’t see a car stopped in front of him while going 75 mph on the highway, there is little any braking system can do to completely avoid an accident. These systems are meant to assist drivers by warning them first, then applying the brakes automatically.

How the Automakers’ Promise Helps Drivers

According to the IIHSA, having automatic emergency brakes become standard equipment would reduce the number of rear-end collisions by 40 percent, preventing nearly 10,000 crashes and 4,000 injuries per year. NHTSA was already planning to start the regulatory process to require automakers to make AEB systems standard equipment, but that is a slow process. NHTSA estimates that this voluntary agreement on the part of the automakers speeds up the process by at least three years and saves lives in the process.

Twenty automakers have signed on to the agreement, including Ford, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Volkswagen, Kia, and Tesla. While all of these automakers currently offer some version of AEB technology on some of their models, they have all promised to make this technology standard on all models—no matter the price point—by 2022.

Other safety technology, such as rearview cameras, back-up sensors, park-assist technology, and adaptive cruise control are likely to also become more available on a wider range of models in the years to come.

Have You Been Injured In A Kansas City Area Car Accident?

If you've been injured in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.


James Roswold
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James Roswold is a Kansas & Missouri personal injury, workers comp, and medical malpractice attorney.
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