New report on self-braking vehicles shows ‘measurable difference’

A new report shows that 15 percent of vehicles have a 'superior' rating in tests of their automatic braking technology. Only 5 percent achieved this rating in 2013.

By Jeff Sanford

Arlington, Virginia — September 1, 2015 — The US-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has just released its latest report ranking new vehicles that can brake without driver intervention.

IIHS began compiling this report in 2013. This year’s ranking finds many more vehicles are coming equipped with sensors and programs that help drivers avoid a front-end collision by priming or applying brakes automatically. According to IIHS these new anti-collision systems are “here and are making a measurable difference on US roads.”

The Institute rates vehicles as basic, advanced or superior. The cars are tested for effectiveness in avoiding collisions at 12 and 25 mph. According to IIHS, “more than a dozen new models earn the highest rating of superior in the latest round of IIHS ratings.”

“Most motorists won’t be riding in driverless cars anytime soon,” says David Zuby, the Institute’s Executive Vice President and Chief Research Officer. “In the shorter term, automatic braking is an accessible technology that’s within reach for many drivers. We’ve seen an uptick in the number of luxury and mainstream models with available autobrake.”

The 2015 report finds that 15 percent of vehicles have a “superior” rating on these tests; 19 percent have an “advanced” rating; 27 percent have a “basic” rating; 39 percent were rated “doesn’t meet minimum criteria.” That last category means there were no anti-collision devices installed in the vehicle.

This year’s figures represent a significant change from 2013 when 69 percent of vehicles did not qualify for the test and only 5 percent of vehicles achieved a “superior” rating.

The models achieving a “superior” rating include the new 2016 Acura ILX, MDX, RDX and RLX; 2016 BMW X3; 2015 Chrysler 300 and its twin, the 2015 Dodge Charger; 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, CLA and E-Class; and the 2016 Mazda 6 and CX-5.

According to the report, front crash prevention systems use “various types of sensors, such as cameras, radar or laser, to detect when the vehicle is getting too close to one in front of it.” Most systems “issue a warning and precharge the brakes to maximize their effect if the driver responds by braking … [but] many systems automatically brake the vehicle if the driver doesn’t respond. In some cases, automatic braking is activated without a warning.”


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