BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBMA) — Complaints about vehicles suddenly slamming on brakes are climbing. New technology in vehicles is designed to prevent crashes, but now that technology is under a federal microscope. It's known as Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB).
Crash test video shows the clear benefits that can come from AEB. "This has the potential to save hundreds of lives," remarks Michael Brooks with the non-profit Center for Auto Safety.
But some drivers report vehicles unexpectedly stopping not to avoid a crash or a pedestrian, but for no reason. "Kind of wow what just happened?" said Mark Webb.
He recounted an incident when his wife was driving one evening. Webb says his wife tapped the brake pedal several times and that seemed to help. Fortunately there were no other vehicles around.
He explains they bought their Nissan Rogue for the safety features. Now he's worried about the risk of someone rear ending them if the vehicle suddenly stops again. "You look who's behind you in case your car has a mind of its own," explained Webb.
The electronics were reset at the dealership and there haven't been any other incidents. But now he questions the value of their vehicle. "Is it gonna make the car unsellable? That's a big loss," said Webb.
Lauren Brackin, a former ABC3340 producer, says with her Honda there are similar worries after an incident with her car. "It was kind of creepy. All of the sudden the car started blinking telling me to brake," recalls Brackin.
Then another day she explains while driving through a construction zone with the lanes not clearly marked the car started braking.
"All of the sudden I come to a complete stop. I'm so lucky someone didn't run into me. I screamed bloody murder this is the end of my life. Fortunately the car behind me didn't hit me," explained Brackin.
In February U.S. auto regulators announced they were looking at 1.7 million newer Hondas for automatic braking issues: 2017- 2019 CR-V's along with 2018-2019 Accords.
NHTSA Reports show 278 complaints. In six cases vehicle owners reported collisions with minor injuries. In a written statement Honda said it is cooperating with the investigation and continuing its own review.
"Honda is committed to safety. We are aware that NHTSA has initiated a preliminary evaluation regarding the operation of the Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) In 2018-2019 Accord and 2017-2019 CR-V vehicles. Honda will cooperate with the NHTSA through the investigation process, and we will continue our own internal review of the available information." Chris Martin, Automobile Public Relations, American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also reports open investigations on 2017-2018 Nissan Rogue and Rogue Sport vehicles.
Federal regulators have also received more than 300 consumer complaints on Tesla cars suddenly braking.
"We're seeing a lot of performance issues," says Michael Brooks. He called the concerns about the automatic braking "a huge one."
"AEB is all over the place. We're seeing different results. Some don't work great at high speeds and don't work great with pedestrians especially at night," remarked Brooks.
AEB was a voluntary safety measure to be in place on new cars by September of this year. Brooks explains the federal government didn't set the standards so there could be issues with sensors or software. The group hopes for some federal rules this year.
"At least acknowledge this is an issue. My wife is in that car everyday and I'm not confident," says Webb.
NHTSA has a huge database and needs to know what's going on with any potential defect. You should report vehicle issues on the agency's website. Also be sure you report to your manufacturer and see if they can fix the issue while under warranty. Computer systems need care and maintenance.
To report a safety problem to NHTSA click here
Class action lawsuits have been filed in two other states over the braking issues.
For guidance, NHTSA has an open investigation into Model Year 2018-2019 Honda Accords and Model Year 2017-2019 Honda CR-V vehicles for inadvertent activation of the automatic emergency braking system. You can view the opening resume for this investigation below:
NHTSA also has an open investigation into Model Year 2017-2018 Nissan Rogue vehicles for unintended automatic emergency braking activation. You can view the opening resume for this investigation below:
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