Automatic braking systems don't always work

Pedestrian fatalities are on the rise in West Virginia and across the country according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. To combat the problem, more automakers are adding automatic emergency braking systems to their new vehicles. However, consumer advocates say the systems don't always perform as advertised, especially at night.

The NHTSA reports that 6,283 pedestrians were struck and killed on U.S. roads in 2018, which is the highest total since 1990. According to traffic safety experts, distracted driving is one of the causes of the spike in deaths. To help drivers out, automakers are promoting automatic emergency braking systems, which use cameras and sensors to detect pedestrians in a vehicle's path and hit the brakes to avoid a collision.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently tested these systems in the daylight and found some of them to be severely lacking. Six vehicles earned a "superior" rating from the organization, meaning they successfully braked or slowed down in the presence of pedestrians. These vehicles were the 2019 Audi A4, the 2019-2020 BMW 3-Series, the 2020 Subaru Outback, the 2019-2020 Mercedes Benz C-Class, the 2019-2020 Nissan Maxima and the 2019 Volvo S60. However, three vehicles received "basic" ratings, and three others received "no credit" for their performance, meaning they failed to prevent pedestrian collisions. The "no credit" group included the 2019-2020 Ford Fusion, the 2019 Hyundai Sonata and the 2019 Kia Optima. In addition, a recent AAA study found that automatic emergency braking systems were ineffective at night. Due to these findings, safety experts say that drivers who have these systems on their vehicles should not depend on them to prevent accidents.

Pedestrians injured in motor vehicle accidents might be owed compensation for medical bills and other losses. An attorney may help a victim file a lawsuit and work to negotiate a fair settlement.

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