Automatic Braking System Issues

Photo of Brant Stogner

Around a dozen complaints have been filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) from drivers of Honda, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, and General Motors Co. vehicles regarding their cars automated braking systems. The complaints were due to various vehicles' automated braking systems activating for no reason.

Automated braking is a technology that allows vehicles to sense an impending collision with another vehicle, person, or obstacle. After the system senses an obstruction, the automated braking can be executed by two separate modes. The first mode is collision avoidance. In collision avoidance, the accident is avoided by the automated braking, but the driver will not be warned before the system brakes. The second mode is collision mitigation or collision warning. In a collision mitigation system, the sensors detect the possibility of an accident, but will not take instantaneous action. Instead, a warning will be sent to the driver in the form of a signal or a voice message. In this system, there is a base safe distance calculated by the system. If the driver fails to respond when the vehicle crosses that safe threshold region, then the brakes will be applied automatically. The collision mitigation system leaves most of the decision to brake with the driver, except in emergency situations.

U.S. safety investigators started investigating complaints regarding the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokees. The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee has a collision warning system. Drivers have complained that their automatic brakes activated with no signs of danger. Additionally, in May, Honda Motor Co. recalled 2014 and 2015 Acura sport-utility vehicles that could unexpectedly brake if they were driving near an iron fence while a vehicle in front of the Acura SUV's simultaneously accelerated.

Another issue that may be present in automated braking systems is the possibility of the vehicle's automated braking not reacting fast enough or failing to sense a person, object, or other vehicle. If auto makers are going to implement these systems into more of their vehicles, then they will face the challenges of correcting these possible mistakes. Currently, around 630,000 of the vehicles sold in North America this year are expected to use automated braking systems. By the year 2020, that number is expected to top 10 million. As the usage of these systems become more commonplace, the potential for the automated braking to fail and result in devastating injuries will rise.

If you or someone you know was injured or killed in an accident involving the malfunction of an automated braking system, or a vehicle product defect, it is important to understand your right to recover. Contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend by calling 713-222-7211 or toll free at 1-800-870-9584 for a confidential consultation.

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