Technology Wrecks the Rear-End Car Wreck by J. Robb Cruser

Over 100 years ago, Henry Ford’s assembly line made cars available to the masses, making horse drawn carriages a thing of the past. But Ford’s innovation didn’t prevent cars from rear-ending each other for the next century. But soon, rear-end collisions will be another relic of the past.

How? The automatic emergency braking (AEB) system, which prevents a car from hitting an object in front of it. The AEB system is quietly making a massive impact on driver safety and will all but eliminate the rear-end collision by the end of the next decade. A Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article, citing the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, recently shared, “AEB reduces rear-end crashes by 50%, and reduces crashes with injuries by 56%.  In the U.S., there were 1.7 million such rear-end crashes in 2012, resulting in 1,700 deaths and 500,000 injuries.” While it will take a while for all vehicles in the U.S. to have AEB systems, the WSJ, citing the National Transportation Safety Board, estimates that AEB systems “could eventually reduce fatalities and injuries from rear-end crashes by 80%.” More AEB systems means fewer crashes, fewer fatalities and fewer injuries. This is great news for the driving public.

The next challenge? Developing technology that will prevent left-turn crashes. But don’t count on that any decade soon. Rear-end collisions are far less complex than left turn scenarios, which involve multiple inputs and variables. There are just some situations that humans will always process better than machines.

In summary, the AEB system is a shining example of technology that delivers by greatly improving driver safety. But the left turn prevention technology is still a far-off work in progress.




Mims, Christopher (2019, June 15) Self-Driving Cars Have a Problem: Safer Human-Driven Ones. The Wall Street Journal.