Vehicles with automatic emergency braking systems may be vulnerable when driving at night or into harsh sunlight, and current testing standards fall short of the mark to address the needs of pedestrians, bicyclists and other vulnerable road users. There is significant room for improvement.
An October 2019 report based on AAA testing showed that automatic emergency braking available in consumer vehicles today to detect and stop for pedestrians had shortcomings and was "ineffective during nighttime conditions." Pedestrian deaths continue to rise on roadways worldwide, with over 6,000 pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. in 2019.
Current testing done by NHTSA and the European New Car Assessment Program has standard protocols in place that allow visible cameras and radar emergency braking to seem effective. However, these testing protocols are not designed to simulate all driving environments. Testing methods need to address and simulate situations where pedestrians are being hit in real life, such as nighttime scenarios. As the testing gets harder to pass, automakers will start to deploy systems that are more capable so these braking systems can more effectively improve vehicle safety.