Braking when it’s important

The imagery that accompanies this entry comes from Toyota, but the subject matter is broader than just one manufacturer’s product might indicate. Toyota cites figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimating that about 400,000 motorists are injured each year in collisions with drivers distracted by infotainment systems, texting, looking at members of the opposite sex and all kinds of other issues that have nothing to do with operating a vehicle. Recently evolved technology known has automatic emergency braking, where the car takes over its stopping functions for you, can reduce rear-end crashes by up to 46 percent according to research by the University of Michigan. AEB is offered, or even standard, on a growing number of vehicles, especially those optioned by some form of adaptive cruise control, which can directly control the application of brakes in an oh-my-God situation.

If you’re old enough to have a perspective on the development of safety systems in mass-market motor vehicles, you’ll be pleased to learn that the driving public is embracing AEB considerably more rapidly than it warmed to things such as mandatory seat-belt use and airbags, to name just two situations. Toyota has included AEB in its Toyota Safety Sense suite of active-safety measures, which is now standard on 16 different Toyota models plus the entire Lexus lineup. From personal experience, we can assure that the first time you experience an activated AEB system in action, it’s a little unsettling, as you feel the car fully taking control of the evasive maneuver for you. But we can also tell you that you’ll appreciate the added set of “eyes” that scan ahead of the vehicle and engage the system in emergencies. We’ve gotten smart of late about any number of things. There’s no reason accident avoidance shouldn’t be one of them.

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