Automatic Braking Systems Make Vehicles Safer

April 4th, 2016 by Attorney Julie Butcher

Automotive technology is rolling forward closer to fully autonomous vehicles, but in the meantime some of the technology that will make that possible is available already, helping to prevent accidents and injuries. Automatic braking systems available now either give the driver a warning or apply the brakes automatically if an object is getting too close to the front of the car. Given how distracted and fatigued many Kentucky drivers are, allowing the car to take over the braking function may actually be safer.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has been looking at vehicles equipped with these systems, and it found that front crash prevention systems reduce rear-end crashes and resulting injuries by about 40%, according to The systems use radar or cameras in the front of the vehicle, as well as driver input, when deciding whether to issue an alarm or apply the brakes.

Researchers reviewed rear-end crashes reported to the police in 22 states from 2010 to 2014 which involved Acura, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru and Volvo vehicles equipped with optional front crash prevention systems. They then compared them these statistics to crash rates for the same models without these systems.

  • Forward collision warning systems reduced rear-end crashes by nearly 25%.
  • Forward collision warning systems used with auto-braking systems reduced crashes by 39%.
  • Injuries from rear-end accidents dropped by 42% with these safety features.
  • Volvo’s low-speed crash-prevention system is standard on its models, and it reduced overall by 41% percent and injuries by nearly 50%.

The IIHS estimates that if all vehicles used auto-brake systems that worked as well as those studied, there would have been at least 700,000 fewer police-reported rear-end crashes in 2013, or about 13% of all accidents reported to the police.

An agreement reached in September by nine automakers (BMW, Ford, GM, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volvo and Volkswagen) states forward collision warning and automatic braking systems would be standard on all new cars by 2022. IIHS and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have asked remaining major automakers like Honda, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Hyundai-Kia to do the same.

NHTSA is offering the carrot and stick of good or bad publicity to auto companies when it comes to this technology. It has a five-star rating for the safety of vehicles sold in the United States, including whether a model does or does not have recommended safety systems. In November, the agency announced that, starting with the 2018 model year, automatic emergency braking systems would be a recommended safety technology.

If you want to learn more about these systems, you can check out the NHTSA webpage ( explaining how they work and a video showing a scenario where automatic braking is used to prevent a crash and a demonstration showing the two types of applications.

It will take time for these new, safer technologies to be widespread on Kentucky’s roads and highways. Though new vehicle sales are doing well, as of last year the average age of an American car on the road was 11.5 years, according to USA Today, so there will be plenty of cars without this technology for some time to come.

If you or a family member has been injured due to a vehicle accident, the Julie Butcher Law Office has extensive experience handling the claims of those injured in these cases. Call us at 859-233-3641 or fill out our contact form so we can talk about the circumstances of your case and how we can help your family obtain justice.