Technological advancements are supposed to make driving safer. Unfortunately, that has not been the case in many parts of the United States – including Alabama, North Carolina, and Virginia. While driver behavior plays a significant role in car crash rates, the vehicles people drive also contribute to the problem, including cars with new and advanced safety features.
A common safety feature on many newer vehicles that is causing drivers problems is the automatic emergency braking system (AEB). These systems are meant to stop a vehicle automatically if the driver is close to hitting a pedestrian or other vehicle. That way, the driver doesn’t have to make a split-second decision and slam on the brakes ahead of a potential accident.
While AEBs have helped many drivers avoid daytime accidents, many don’t seem to work well in the dark. This can be concerning, as nighttime crashes can often lead to serious injuries.
Some AEB systems don’t work as well after dark
A recent study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that AEBs are effective during the daytime but not as effective at night. Researchers tested 23 vehicles to see whether their AEB systems performed well under various circumstances. Of the 23, four were labeled as “superior.” More than half were categorized as “basic,” and the others received no credit for their success in avoiding a collision.
This study is comparable to a prior study showing that vehicles without AEB systems were just as safe as those with them when nighttime driving on unlit roads.
These systems are supposed to identify pedestrians in front of the vehicle. When the driver approaches a pedestrian, the vehicle gives a warning signal to the driver. Then, the AEB activates, stopping the vehicle before it hits the pedestrian. The conditions, speeds, and amount of light differed in the tests. Some vehicles performed better than others, but the lack of success is problematic.
According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, around 75% of pedestrian deaths in 2019 happened after dark. And in 2021 alone, there were almost 7,500 pedestrian deaths – the most pedestrian fatalities in a single year across the United States.
Driving safely at night without relying on AEB
As many vehicles with AEBs don’t work as well at night, drivers must be vigilant when watching out for pedestrians and other drivers. Here’s how they can protect themselves and others when driving at night:
- Keep vehicle windows clean: Seeing in the dark can be difficult enough, even with streetlights present. Keeping the windshield free of dust, debris, and other gunk can give you a better sense of what’s in front, behind, and right next to you. It can also help you recognize how close or far away you are from pedestrians, vehicles, and other objects.
- Don’t drive tired: Drivers are more likely to crash between midnight and 6 a.m., according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study. If you feel drowsy before hitting the road, consider taking a quick nap before you go. Then drink a cup of coffee and turn up the radio as you head out. You should also look out for other drowsy drivers at night so you can avoid them.
- Watch out for wildlife: In some parts of Alabama, North Carolina, and Virginia, you are more likely to encounter deer, bears, wolves, and other mammals than human pedestrians, particularly in rural areas. Driving faster on rural, forest, or country roads may seem tempting. However, slowing down and turning on your high beams can help you watch out for furry creatures nearby.
- Make sure all your lights work: There’s often nothing more dangerous than driving without lights. If you’re heading out on a long nighttime drive, test your low beams, high beams, headlights, and interior lights to ensure all are working correctly. If they’re not, getting them looked at or replaced before you hit the road is essential.
- Be mindful of the weather: Navigating heavy rain, winds, or snowstorms when it’s dark can be challenging. While some vehicles can manage these conditions better than others, assessing your comfort level is vital before you get in your car. However, if you wind up driving in harsh weather conditions at night, make sure you slow down, pull off to a safe place if possible, and try to avoid fragile structures that could collapse, such as older bridges.
Following these tips can help drivers avoid a major nighttime collision.
Safety features in a crash may need a professional assessment
As auto manufacturers formulate new ways to enhance safety, it is no surprise that there have been difficulties in achieving their goal. Still, this is concerning.
For help with any auto accident, it is crucial to seek professional advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer. This can be crucial when recovering medical costs, lost income, and more.