Over the past couple of years, the Insurance Institute for Highway safety has been expanding its testing of automatic emergency braking systems. It has expanded from just testing car-to-car capabilities to testing car-to-pedestrian, as of 2019. Now it’s looking at how these systems work at night. As it turns out, they do quite a bit worse than during the daytime.
This is important for two reasons. First of all, as the organization notes, pedestrian deaths have been on the rise since 2009. And from 2020 to 2021, deaths have risen by 13% to just over 7,300. Of those, 75% occur at night. The second reason is that, as shown by an IIHS study, automatic emergency braking systems
The reason for this, after this battery of tests, seems to be the systems just aren’t particularly good at detecting pedestrians after the sun sets. The test involved using adult mannequins either crossing the street or walking parallel to the street. Child mannequins, used in daylight testing, were excluded due to very low rates of child pedestrian fatalities at night (Good news, Elon! -BH.)
The good news is that there are systems that work well. Also, once the IIHS begins regularly testing safety features, automakers tend to make improvements to perform well on them. Examples of this include the organization’s small-overlap frontal crash tests and headlight tests.