Automatic braking: the road to adoption

Andrey Kamenov

Andrey Kamenov, Ph.D. Probability and Statistics

Automatic braking is still considered a novelty in the car world. But the technology is maturing, causing many people to question if it’s going to be seen in more and more new cars each year. And can it really help significantly reduce the number of road fatalities?

Eleven percent of all fatal crashes in 2016 involved at least one driver who was distracted or drowsy — a record low figure (that means just under 3,800 crashes in absolute terms). We can consider this number a ballpark estimate for how many lives could have been saved by Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB).

In fact, there seems to be a significant variation in the percentage of crashes caused by distracted or drowsy drivers between states. In California and Illinois, it’s only around 5 to 6 percent, while the number reaches as high as 41 percent in New Mexico.

Distracted/drowsy driver crashes by state

In March 2016, The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration brokered a deal which will make AEB a mandatory safety feature, like a safety belt. A total of 20 manufacturers representing 99 percent of the U.S. auto market agreed to make it standard in all of their new cars by 2022.

Two of the manufacturers, Mercedes-Benz and Tesla, don't actually need to change anything. Non-AEB equipped cars constitute a fraction of 1 percent of their sales (with Tesla further commenting that it only disables the technology on the car at the explicit customer's request — for example, if the vehicle is going to be exported).

But for the market as a whole, there's a long way to go — the general adoption rate is just over 28 percent. Toyota is the only non-luxury car manufacturer that has more than half of its newly-sold vehicles equipped with automatic braking.

At the time of writing, FCA's report was unavailable on the regulation.gov website. However, a press release by the NHTSA states that the current AEB adoption rate for the manufacturer's vehicles is only 6 percent.

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About Andrey Kamenov

Andrey Kamenov

Andrey Kamenov, Ph.D. Probability and Statistics

Andrey Kamenov is a data scientist working for Advameg Inc. His background includes teaching statistics, stochastic processes and financial mathematics in Moscow State University and working for a hedge fund. His academic interests range from statistical data analysis to optimal stopping theory. Andrey also enjoys his hobbies of photography, reading and powerlifting.

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