'Phantom Braking' Persists as Systems Become Standard

Auto safety groups warn that drivers are increasingly turning their automatic braking systems off.

According to studies, if automatic braking systems were installed in every vehicle, the number of rear-end crashes would likely be cut in half … which is one major factor behind the decision by dozens of automakers to agree to put automatic braking systems in each of their new cars by the year 2022.

Within three years of the standard, the IIHS says the systems will prevent an estimated 28,000 crashes – which is great, right? Well, as we move towards this established feature, there are some people out there who have some reservations about automatic braking.

In fact, the NHTSA is investigating a claim by one woman that her 2018 Nissan Rogue inexplicably slammed on the brakes while she was driving down the highway at 55 mph – coming to a complete stop. Cindy Walsh says the Rogue’s automatic braking has engaged two other times. When she has taken it to the dealership, they said it worked.

She told CBS News that’s she’s now too scared to even drive it anymore. NHTSA’s investigation will cover the 2017 and 2018 Rogue after some 850 complaints of false activation of the SUV’s automatic braking – the results of which have reportedly been 14 crashes and five injuries. Jason Levine of the Center for Auto Safety also told CBS that people were beginning to turn the system off, which added to the incentive for these agencies to resolve the matter and “move towards a recall very quickly.”

A recent study by the IIHS says the systems are safe, but “there is definitely room for improvement.” Outside of any potential issues with the Rogue, there have been seven recalls relating to automatic braking systems in the past three years. The “phantom braking” problem in the Rogue could add more than a half million vehicles to that list.

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