The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into 1.7 million Honda models this week. The agency is looking into complaints about the brand's automatic emergency braking system inadvertently activating while the vehicle is moving. According to NHTSA, the issue can cause rapid deceleration and increase the risk of a collision.
NHTSA has received 278 complaints pertaining to the 2018-2019 Honda Accord and the 2017-2019 Honda CR-V. The investigation could affect an estimated 1,732,000 vehicles. The complaints point to inadvertent or unexpected activation of Honda's collision mitigation braking system when there is nothing obstructing the vehicle's path of travel. Complaints to NHTSA also noted that the braking occurred without warning and randomly. Of those complaints, six allegedly resulted in a collision where passengers suffered minor injuries.
Gallery: 2018 Honda Accord
Automatic emergency braking systems are designed to apply the brake for a driver if the car's various sensors detect an imminent collision. The system can help drivers avoid collisions altogether or greatly reduce their severity. However, even the best technologies aren't flawless, and the sensors could make false detections without any obstruction at all. The systems are also becoming more widespread in the industry, with several automakers equipping new vehicles with the technology as a standard feature.
NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation is opening a "Preliminary Evaluation" to determine the scope and severity of the potential problem. Honda is cooperating with the investigation. The extent of the issue is unclear, which could affect more models than the ones NHTSA has singled out to investigate as each vehicle is different in its design. When safety tech fails to operate, it's one thing, but the sporadic operation is an entirely different beast. NHTSA didn't provide a timeline for when it would conclude its investigation. We will keep an eye out for any recalls that Honda issues related to the problem.