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Here's what happened when reverse automatic braking was put to the test

New research from AAA shows AEB systems only prevented a collision in 2.5 percent of test runs.
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Posted at 11:12 AM, Mar 04, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-04 18:03:44-05

Newer vehicles are packed with all sorts of technology to help prevent crashes, especially when backing out of a driveway or busy parking lot. But new research reminds us why it's a bad idea to rely on technology alone when driving.

For the first time, AAA research zeroed in on reverse automatic emergency braking and how well systems responded to prevent rear-end crashes.

Researchers simulated collisions using four 2023 model year vehicles with reverse AEB with rear cross traffic mitigation.

In the case of a vehicle crossing behind the test vehicle, AAA reports that reverse AEB systems automatically applied the brakes in 65 percent of test runs but only prevented a collision in 2.5 percent of test runs.

"What we learned, in a message for consumers, is that you have to give the system time to work," said Greg Brannon, AAA's director of automotive engineering research. "If you are pulling out of a spot and you have a large vehicle next to you, you have to go very slow in reverse, even with the presence of these systems."

AAA shared video of its test runs which used a test vehicle and child-sized dummy as targets.

The systems performed better in the scenario involving a stationary child. Reverse AEB automatically applied brakes in 75 percent of test runs and prevented a collision in 50 percent of them.

With reverse AEB, Brannon said sensors need enough time to capture what's happening behind a vehicle, "Until those sensors are revealed from behind that parked car, the system's just as blind as you are," he said.

Brannon's message is that driver assistance systems are designed to assist the driver, not replace the driver.