Autobrake performance drops after sunset


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Night Classifications of Automatic Pedestrian Emergency Braking Systems


  • 2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E
  • 2022 Nissan Pathfinder
  • 2022 Toyota Camry
  • 2022 Toyota Highlander

Pedestrian collision prevention rated as advanced

  • 2022 Honda Accord
  • 2022 Hyundai Palisade
  • 2022 Hyundai Sonata
  • 2022 Nissan Frontier Double Cab
  • 2022 Nissan Murano
  • 2022 Subaru Ascent
  • 2022 Subaru Outback


  • 2022 Chevrolet Traverse – AEB Standard/Optional
  • 2022 Ford Explorer
  • 2022 Ford Maverick Double Cab
  • 2022 Ford Ranger Double Cab
  • 2022 Mazda CX-9
  • 2022 Volkswagen Atlas*
  • 2022 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport*
  • 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan*

No credit

  • 2022 Chevrolet Malibu – AEB Equipment Optional
  • 2022 Honda Pilot
  • 2022 Nissan Altima
  • 2022 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab

All vehicles equipped with AEB as standard, unless otherwise stated.
*Vehicles with radar systems only. Ratings for these vehicles were calculated based on their performance in the daylight evaluation.

“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 that automakers can take on this new challenge, as Ford, Nissan and Toyota each deserve superior ratings for some models.”

The Ford Mustang Mach-E, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Camry and Toyota Highlander deserve superior ratings. Seven more vehicles — the Honda Accord, Hyundai Palisade, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Frontier, Nissan Murano, Subaru Ascent and Subaru Outback — earn advanced ratings.

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Eight others earn base scores. They are the Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer, Ford Maverick, Ford Ranger, Mazda CX-9, Volkswagen Atlas, Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport and Volkswagen Tiguan.

The pedestrian AEB systems in the Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Pilot, Nissan Altima and Toyota Tacoma don’t perform well enough in the dark to deserve any credit.

In the daylight test, 19 of those 23 vehicles achieved superior or advanced ratings.

“It’s disheartening that so many mid-sized SUVs and small pickups perform poorly in the nighttime test because research shows these types of vehicles are more dangerous to pedestrians,” Harkey said.

A growing problem
IIHS introduced the vehicle-to-pedestrian daytime evaluation in 2019 and required an advanced or superior rating for a TOP SAFETY PICK or TOP SAFETY PICK+ award in 2020. Today, the feature is available on nearly nine of the ten new models IIHS evaluates, and half of the systems tested earn superior ratings in daylight.

The number of pedestrian fatalities continues to rise. Since bottoming out in 2009, federal estimates for 2021 show that pedestrian fatalities have increased by nearly 80 percent. The approximately 7,300 pedestrians who lost their lives in 2021 accounted for almost a fifth of all road deaths.

Related article: US traffic deaths in first half 2022 peak in 16 years

Three quarters of those fatalities take place at night, when research shows that most pedestrian AEB systems are less effective. A recent IIHS study found that the technology reduced pedestrian accidents by more than a quarter for equipped vehicles. However, there was no difference in crash rate for equipped and unequipped vehicles at night on unlit roads. Research tests conducted as part of the development of the nighttime evaluation also showed significant performance reductions in dark conditions.

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That pattern is evident in the first nightly ratings.

“Eight of the 12 vehicles that earned a basic rating or no credit in the nighttime test received superior or advanced ratings in the daylight evaluation,” said David Aylor, vice president of active safety at IIHS, who designed the new program.

Evaluate performance
The nighttime test includes two common pedestrian crash scenarios, an adult crossing the road and an adult walking along the road at the edge of the lane. The ambient lighting around the test track should remain below 1 lux during the evaluation – approximately the amount of light emitted by a full moon.

The evaluation does not include a third scenario used in the daylight test simulating a child shooting into the road from behind two parked cars. The scenario is not part of the nighttime evaluation because there are few pedestrian fatalities at night.

The crossing test is performed at 12 mph and 25 mph, and the parallel test is performed at 25 and 37 mph. Scores are awarded based on the average speed reductions in five repeated test drives on dry surfaces. Separate tests are performed with the headlamps on the high beam and low beam settings, and the scores are adjusted if the vehicle is equipped with High Beam Assist – a feature that automatically turns on high beam when no other vehicles are around.

“The idea is to weigh the score based on the beam setting most likely to be turned on at the time of a potential crash,” Aylor said.

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For systems that use cameras, the ratings only apply to vehicles equipped with the specific headlamp systems used for the evaluation, as the quality of the headlamps can also affect performance.

An advanced or superior rating in the nighttime test will be a requirement for the TOP SAFETY PICK+ award in 2023.

How they fared?
Only the superior quality Pathfinder prevented a collision with the pedestrian dummy in both test scenarios at all test speeds, both with low beam and high beam.

Also earning superior ratings, the Camry, Highlander and Mustang Mach-E avoided hitting the dummy in the crossover scenario at both test speeds and in the 25 mph parallel test with both low and high beams. All three vehicles slowed significantly with their high and low beams in the 37 mph parallel test, mitigating the impact.

None of the advanced vehicles were able to avoid collisions in the 37 mph parallel scenario. With their high beams, most avoided hitting the pedestrian in the 12 mph and 25 mph crossing scenario and in the 25 mph parallel test. However, most had difficulty in those scenarios when using their low beams.

While some basic rated vehicles avoided hitting the pedestrian dummy at the lower test speeds, none avoided collisions in the higher speed crossing or parallel higher speed scenario. The vehicles that were not rated for their pedestrian AEB systems either did not slow down at all or barely reduced their speed before hitting the dummy in multiple test scenarios with both low and high beam.

Credit: IIHS


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