No wonder why so many automakers are including it as standard.
Just a few years ago, AAA conducted a test of automatic braking systems and warned consumers not to trust them entirely. The effectiveness of systems varies greatly from model to model and brand to brand but have been greatly improved in recent years. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) just conducted a test of General Motors vehicles equipped with forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking. The test found that forward collision greatly reduced the risk of having a crash and combining it with automatic emergency braking had an even more significant effect.
According to the IIHS, GM cars with auto braking and forward collision warning had 43 % fewer police-reported front-to-rear crashes and 64% fewer front-to-rear crashes with injuries compared to vehicles without either system. In vehicles with forward collision warning only, front-to-rear crashes were reduced by 17% while front-to-rear crashes with injuries were reduced by 30%.
Clearly, giving the car the ability to brake on its own without driver interaction has proved to be much safer. "The evidence has been mounting that front crash prevention works, and it works even better when it doesn't solely rely on a response from the driver," said Jessica Cicchino, IIHS vice president for research.
The data from this study mirrored an earlier IIHS study of Acura, Fiat Chrysler, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru, and Volvo vehicles, which found that the combination of forward collision warning and auto braking cut down crashes by half and crashes with injuries by 56%. The same study showed that collision warning without auto braking only cut down accidents by 27% and 20% respectively.
We test a lot of new cars, many of which are fitted with these systems. While we appreciate what these systems do, they can sometimes be a bit overcautious for our liking. In our opinion, drivers could just pay a bit more attention to the road, though even we must admit we've been saved by auto braking at some point.