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Because of the alarming numbers of transportation deaths and injuries, the Department of Transportation (DOT) released its first National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS) in January 2022. This strategy lays out the DOT’s roadmap for curbing the toll of road-related deaths and injuries.

In the NRSS, the DOT stressed how autonomous emergency braking (AEB) systems help reduce accidents and make the roads safer. Does your vehicle have AEB? Let’s delve into this system to understand its role in collision prevention.

How Does an AEB System Work?

AEB stands for “Autonomous Emergency Braking” or “Automatic Emergency Braking.” Many modern vehicles come equipped with AEB technology. Toyota, for example, calls its version of AEB “Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian System.”

Although this system can have different names depending on the automaker, each version works similarly.

The AEB system automatically applies the brake once it detects an imminent collision. The technology utilizes radars and cameras to identify obstacles like other vehicles ahead, then determines the odds of a collision.

The system will first warn the driver through a dashboard message or an audible alarm. If the driver doesn’t press the brakes, the system will apply the brakes automatically to prevent a collision.

Does an AEB System Work in Both Low- and High-Speed Situations?

In the past, most AEB systems only worked at low speeds. This means that the system can only prevent collisions in heavy traffic situations or when parking the vehicle in a parking lot.

One example of a low-speed AEB system is Mazda’s Smart City Brake Support. It automatically applies the brakes when it detects an obstacle while traveling a 18 mph or less.

Most modern AEB system’s automatic brakes work in both low and high-speed settings. Even Mazda replaced their AEB system with a more advanced Brake Support System technology that works even if the vehicle is going at 90 mph.

Can Auto Emergency Braking Systems Detect Pedestrians and Cyclists?

Aside from detecting vehicles, some AEB systems can detect pedestrians and cyclists. Some can even detect large animals on the road. This means AEB systems help reduce deer-related car accidents.

Although not all AEB systems can detect a pedestrian, the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) announced that it will be a requirement in the future.

What’s Reverse Automatic Braking?

Like AEB, rear AEB or reverse automatic braking systems work like automatic brakes. With the help of radars and cameras, it stops the vehicle once it detects an imminent rear-end collision.

The system can sense when you’re near an object while reversing, and it automatically applies the brakes before you hit the object.

Does My Vehicle Have an AEB System?

Around 90 percent of modern light-duty vehicles already come standard with auto emergency braking. A lot of major vehicle manufacturers boast that they already equip most of their vehicles with this safety system.

GM, for instance, said that 95 percent of the vehicles they currently sell already have standard AEB technology. Ford also made a similar claim, stating that 96 percent of Ford vehicles already have AEB technology with pedestrian detection.

If you have no idea if your vehicle has AEB, review your owner’s manual or contact your dealership.

When Will AEB Become Mandatory?

The NHTSA is proposing that all vehicles should have a version of an AEB system by the years 2028 to 2029.

Once the new NHTSA rule takes effect, automakers will be given at least four years from the date of implementation to incorporate AEB technology on every vehicle they release.

Meanwhile, small-volume manufacturers and alterers will be given five years.

Is the AEB System Effective?

Several studies conducted within the country and other neighboring regions have proven the AEB system’s effectiveness.

In a study conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in 2019, there was a 50-percent reduction in front-to-rear collisions for vehicles equipped with AEB and other forward-collision warning features.

A 2015 study conducted by the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) and the Australian NCAP also showed that AEB reduced rear-end crashes by 38 percent.

Leading safety experts, like Thatcham Research, rate AEB as one of the most important road safety advances of recent years.

The Downside of AEB Systems

Although AEB systems are proven to be an effective tool in preventing road collisions, they still have their flaws.

For example, an AEB system can activate when it’s not necessary.  Some of the things that an AEB system can mistake as a threat include shadows on the road, parked cars, and metal road signages.

Steep driveways can also activate a vehicle’s AEB system. That’s because sensors can mistake the change in elevation and proximity to the ground as a potential risk. Also, extreme weather conditions can affect how your AEB system works.

What’s a Safe Braking Distance?

You shouldn’t rely on emergency brakes to keep you safe while on the road. Developing safe driving habits is the best way to avoid collisions while on the road.

One way to avoid collisions at low speeds and high-traffic conditions is by being aware of your ride’s safe braking distance.

Studies have shown that it takes an average driver between half a second and three-quarters of a second to realize they need to press the brakes. That’s why you need to keep a safe following distance while on the road.

Always leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front of you. You also have to be aware of the current road and weather conditions in your area. Make sure to adjust your braking distance in extreme weather conditions like rain or snow. Roads can become slippery during these times.

Lastly, make sure that you have your brake parts serviced regularly. Faulty brakes can put your safety at risk while on the road. There’s a plethora of aftermarket brake parts out there, so you don’t need to worry about replacement problems.

About The Author
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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