Estimated benefit of automated emergency braking systems for vehicle–pedestrian crashes in the United States

Objective: The objective of this research study is to estimate the benefit to pedestrians if all U.S. cars, light trucks, and vans were equipped with an automated braking system that had pedestrian detection capabilities.

Methods: A theoretical automatic emergency braking (AEB) model was applied to real-world vehicle–pedestrian collisions from the Pedestrian Crash Data Study (PCDS). A series of potential AEB systems were modeled across the spectrum of expected system designs. Both road surface conditions and pedestrian visibility were accounted for in the model. The impact speeds of a vehicle without AEB were compared to the estimated impact speeds of vehicles with a modeled pedestrian detecting AEB system. These impacts speeds were used in conjunction with an injury and fatality model to determine risk of Maximum Abbreviated Injury Scale of 3 or higher (MAIS 3+) injury and fatality.

Results: AEB systems with pedestrian detection capability, across the spectrum of expected design parameters, reduced fatality risk when compared to human drivers. The most beneficial system (time-to-collision [TTC] = 1.5 s, latency = 0 s) decreased fatality risk in the target population between 84 and 87% and injury risk (MAIS score 3+) between 83 and 87%.

Conclusions: Though not all crashes could be avoided, AEB significantly mitigated risk to pedestrians. The longer the TTC of braking and the shorter the latency value, the higher benefits showed by the AEB system. All AEB models used in this study were estimated to reduce fatalities and injuries and were more effective when combined with driver braking.