Automatic Emergency Braking Will Be Standard In Most Cars Despite Complaints From Drivers

The technology is expected to reduce the number of rear-end crashes by half, but many say the system occasionally hits the brakes unexpectedly.

Automatic emergency braking, which will be standard in most vehicles by 2022, is already resulting in complaints from drivers. The technology is expected to reduce the number of rear-end crashes by half, but many say the system occasionally hits the brakes unexpectedly.

CBS News found reports of numerous accidents and injuries that drivers blamed on faulty activations of emergency automatic braking systems. Safety advocates and automakers say in most cases the system works correctly.

Cindy Walsh, who purchased a 2018 Nissan Rogue last October, says that the system has left her frazzled after it slammed on the brakes on three occasions without reason or risk of a crash. "The first one, I was driving down a four-lane highway going about 55 and it completely came to a complete stop," Walsh said. Now, she’s too scared to get behind the wheel of the car.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is now looking into the 2017 and 2018 Rogue after receiving approximately 850 complaints of false activation of the vehicle's automatic braking system, which resulted in 14 crashes and five injuries.

The Rogue is equipped with forward collision avoidance technology that includes automatic emergency braking. An alarm sounds and the car should automatically brake if you are about to rear-end another vehicle. In three years, the system will be standard in most cars.

"People [were] saying they were turning it off… The technology can help and does save you and prevents crashes, but only if it's on and only if it's working," said Jason Levine of the Center for Auto Safety. "We want to see this move towards a recall very quickly."

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) said autobraking makes driving safer and should reduce rear-end collisions by 50%, preventing 28,000 collisions and 12,000 injuries by 2025. "These autonomous emergency braking systems, they are effective. They are working in the real world. But there is definitely room for improvement," said David Aylor, IIHS' manager of active safety testing.

Since 2015, nearly 180,000 vehicles have been recalled for auto-braking issues and more than half a million Nissan Rogues are being investigated by the NHTSA. The regulator has also received hundreds of complaints about "phantom braking" in cars from numerous car manufacturers.

"It happened to us last year. We were driving a Tesla Model 3 with autopilot," CNET Roadshow editor Tim Stevens said. "The car pumped the brakes as we approached an overpass on a busy New Jersey freeway. It may have actually seen that bridge as another car. And so another example that autopilot is not perfect."

In a statement, Nissan said some Rogue drivers may experience "false activation" but that an update to the FEB/AEB system software is expected to improve the system. The automaker added that drivers can bring their vehicle to an authorized Nissan dealership where the update will be installed at no additional cost.

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Walsh, however, is not buying it. "I don't feel safe driving it anymore. I don't feel safe putting my family in it, so I don't want the car," she said. In response, Nissan simply said that they would not comment on “a customer's pending legal claim."

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