Automatic Emergency Braking
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Automatic Emergency Braking

Commercials about brake assist make it seem as if it will eliminate the need for drivers to pay attention and save the lives of dog walking pedestrians around the world. While we don’t know why dog walkers are always featured in these commercials, we do know that this technology is recommended by the NHTSA, IIHS and AAA. Is this just a gimmick to excuse inattentive drivers, or is it something you should seriously consider for your next vehicle? Here’s what you should know about these systems.

Humans Aren’t Good at Panic Stops

In 1992, Mercedes-Benz ran a test project to see how drivers operated in a simulator. To their surprise, they found that 90% didn’t brake hard enough in emergency stops: instead of stomping on the brakes, they would lightly tap the pedal.

Brake Assist has been Around for Over 20 Years

Using this research, they figured out how to recognize this reaction and design a system that could apply full braking force, slowing the vehicle to either reduce or prevent the impact. It took just four years to roll out the first brake assist system in the 1996 in the S-Class, followed by systems for all their cars by 1998.

Engineers Have Worked on Collision Avoidance for Almost 60 Years

Experiments with active collision avoidance systems date back to the Cadillac’s Cyclone concept car, unveiled in 1959. Its rocket-inspired styling featured huge nose cone-shaped radar sensors that could detect object in the road. Unfortunately, it would take almost 40 years to get costs down to a point that collision avoidance could be put into production.

Hughes Electronics created the first practical system based on laser sensors. Its first use was in an adaptive cruise control system offered in the 1997 Toyota Celsior, the Japanese market version of the Lexus LS400. This automatic speed adjusting system is used as the base for automatic braking systems.

Standard Collision Avoidance Could Stop a Lot of Accidents

In the early part of this decade, the International Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) looked into new accident avoidance technologies to see if any of them should be recommended. The results of a 2014 study found that collision avoidance and automatic braking showed the most promise, prompting a second study. In 2016, the results were released showing that there would be 23% fewer rear end collisions if vehicles had collision warnings and 40% fewer with vehicles equipped with automatic braking. Rear end collisions are the most common type of accident at one third of all reported crashes. If all vehicles on the road had this technology, it could reduce the total of accidents per year by about 15%, and deaths could be reduced by as much as 5,000 per year nationwide. The benefits of these systems are already being seen in the European Union, which made brake assist standard in 2015. By their estimates, it has saved 5,000 lives and prevented 50,000 injuries.

Your Next Car Will Probably Have One of These Systems

When the IIHS makes a recommendation, automakers follow suit to ensure their reputation for safety. Currently, 20 automakers representing 99% of vehicle sales have agreed to make some form of brake assist standard by 2022.

Not All Systems are the Same

While there are many trade names applied to these systems, there are two types of braking systems:

Dynamic Brake Support (DBS) — If the driver doesn’t brake hard enough, the system applies more braking force.

Crash Imminent Braking (CIB) — Brakes are automatically applied without driver intervention, slowing or stopping the vehicle if a crash is imminent.

These systems also work at different speeds: some only operate at low speeds, typically up to 45 mph, while others can handle highway speeds.

Use is Mostly Seamless

Despite the newness of the technology, early reports are good. Consumer Reports surveyed owners of cars with these systems. 18% said the system saved them from a crash and just 3% find the system annoying. 68% of owners were “very satisfied” with their vehicle’s brake assist. 18% reported false stops, but these were almost entirely in low-speed situations with little danger of an accident, such as pulling up to a closed garage door.

Trust Merton Auto Body for Collision Repair

Merton Auto Body is I-CAR Gold Class certified and our technicians are ASE certified, so we have the training to repair any collision damage whether you drive a classic car or have a new vehicle equipped with the latest technology. We also have our own repair estimation center with a certified appraiser, so we can work with your insurance company directly to get work approved. Visit our website for a free online estimate, or stop by our convenient Sussex, WI location. We proudly service the Waukesha County and surrounding Lake Country areas, including Oconomowoc, Hartland, Delafield, and Pewaukee.



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