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Effectiveness of forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking systems in reducing front-to-rear crash rates

Cicchino, Jessica B.
Accident Analysis and Prevention
February 2017

The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of forward collision warning (FCW) alone, a low-speed autonomous emergency braking (AEB) system operational at speeds up to 19 mph that does not warn the driver prior to braking, and FCW with AEB that operates at higher speeds in reducing front-to-rear crashes and injuries. Poisson regression was used to compare rates of police-reported crash involvements per insured vehicle year in 22 U.S. states during 2010–2014 between passenger vehicle models with FCW alone or with AEB and the same models where the optional systems were not purchased, controlling for other factors affecting crash risk. Similar analyses compared rates between Volvo 2011–2012 model S60 and 2010–2012 model XC60 vehicles with a standard low-speed AEB system to those of other luxury midsize cars and SUVs, respectively, without the system. FCW alone, low-speed AEB, and FCW with AEB reduced rear-end striking crash involvement rates by 27%, 43%, and 50%, respectively. Rates of rear-end striking crash involvements with injuries were reduced by 20%, 45%, and 56%, respectively, by FCW alone, low-speed AEB, and FCW with AEB, and rates of rear-end striking crash involvements with third-party injuries were reduced by 18%, 44%, and 59%, respectively. Reductions in rear-end striking crashes with third-party injuries were marginally significant for FCW alone, and all other reductions were statistically significant. FCW alone and low-speed AEB reduced rates of being rear struck in rear-end crashes by 13% and 12%, respectively, but FCW with AEB increased rates of rear-end struck crash involvements by 20%. Almost 1 million U.S. police-reported rear-end crashes in 2014 and more than 400,000 injuries in such crashes could have been prevented if all vehicles were equipped with FCW and AEB that perform similarly as systems did for study vehicles.