Automatic emergency braking systems can certainly help prevent collisions with vehicles and pedestrians. However, when it comes to pedestrians it seems many of these systems suffer the same flaws as humans. They don't see as well when the sun goes down.
That's the takeaway from a new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) report on the effectiveness of auto braking systems after dark. According to the organization, 75 percent of vehicle-pedestrian collisions occur after dark, so a new series of tests were launched to evaluate these systems in nighttime conditions. The results were not good, as only four out of 23 vehicles earned a superior rating, the highest possible mark. Another seven achieved an advanced rating. By comparison, 19 out of the same 23 earned either superior or advanced ratings in daytime conditions.
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The highest ranking vehicles were the Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Camry, Toyota Highlander, and the Ford Mustang Mach-E. Of these, only the Pathfinder avoided a pedestrian collision in all scenarios. At the other end of the spectrum, the Toyota Tacoma, Honda Pilot, Nissan Altima, and Chevrolet Malibu earn no rating at all, as these vehicles either barely slowed down or continued full-speed through all the tests. Eight other vehicles received a basic rating.
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"Eight of the 12 vehicles that earn a basic rating or no credit in the nighttime test got superior or advanced ratings in the daylight evaluation," said David Aylor, vice president of active safety at IIHS and designer of the new testing program.
Nighttime testing involves multiple situations at various speeds, using both high-beam and low-beam headlights. An adult crossing the road and an adult walking parallel are the two most common situations; these tests are done at 12 mph and 25 mph for crossing tests, and at 25 mph and 37 mph for parallel.
"As we expected, most of these pedestrian AEB systems don’t work very well in the dark," said IIHS President David Harkey. "But it’s clear automakers can rise to this new challenge, as Ford, Nissan, and Toyota each earn superior ratings for some models."