The safety standards in the automotive industry have become significantly stricter in recent years and now include much more than just the vehicle’s active safety systems in an event of an accident. Europe’s Renault Zoe comes as a very good example – a car that earned the highest possible safety rating a few years ago is now rated as a zero-star (out of five stars) vehicle due to the lack of an automatic emergency braking. 

America’s Insurance Institute for Highway Safety wants to encourage the automakers not only to make the AEB standard on all vehicles but also to make the system work better. The safety organization believes its current AEB test program no longer evaluates the system accurately as it is performed at a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour. The IIHS now considers raising that speed significantly.

Gallery: 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 IIHS Crash Tests

“Thankfully, in the real world, AEB systems are preventing crashes at higher speeds than the maximum 25 mph our test program uses,” David Kidd, IIHS Senior Research Scientist, says. “The problem is that our current evaluation doesn’t tell us how well specific systems perform at those speeds.”

Or, put simply, when the test was originally designed, its goal was to promote the adoption of automatic emergency braking. As a result, 12 out of 20 major automobile manufacturers now sell nearly all their light vehicles with AEB as standard for the US market. The percentage is raising but IIHS wants to encourage the manufacturers to develop better systems.

So, what’s the plan? Based on a new survey regarding the speed and conditions under which most fatal traffic accidents happen in the US, IIHS will conduct a research test with six vehicles equipped with AEB at speeds of up to 45 mph.

At this speed, the evaluation will be relevant to 43 percent of police-reported rear-end crashes and 12 percent of fatal rear-end crashes, making the test more up-to-date. For comparison, the soon-to-be-obsolete current test covers just three percent of police-reported rear-end crashes.

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