The IIHS has a three-tier grading system for AEB systems, Superior at the top, Advanced in the middle, and Basic at the bottom. The only models to receive top marks for AEB nighttime pedestrian detection were the 2022 versions of the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Camry and Toyota Highlander. Only the Pathfinder avoided a collision with the pedestrian dummy in each test scenario at different speeds with low beam and high beam.
The 2022 Honda Accord, Hyundai Palisade, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Frontier, Nissan Murano, Subaru Ascent and Subaru Outback received the second level Advanced rating. None of these models could avoid hitting the pedestrian dummy during the 37 mph test, conducted with the dummy positioned parallel to the road.
The 2022 Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer, Ford Maverick, Ford Ranger, Mazda CX-9, Volkswagen Atlas, Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport, and Volkswagen Tiguan received the Tier Three base rating.
Four models – the 2022 Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Pilot, Nissan Altima and Toyota Tacoma – performed so poorly that they received no marks in the test. These models did not slow down at all or barely reduced their speed before hitting the dummy in several test scenarios with low and high beams.
The IIHS introduced nighttime AEB testing amid troubling national statistics: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the 7,342 pedestrians killed by motor vehicles in 2021, along with tens of thousands more injured, are 80% higher than the all-time low reached in 2009. Pedestrian fatalities have increased by 13% between 2020 and 2021. According to federal crash fatality data, three-quarters of these fatalities occurred at night.
AEB systems were originally designed to prevent collisions between vehicles, and they have grown to include pedestrian detection systems that work to detect pedestrians and brake for them if necessary. AEB is standard on all trims of approximately 83% of vehicles rated by Consumer Reports for the 2022 model year, as the vehicles use the same radar and camera systems used to detect other vehicles. Of these vehicles, only around 2% are not equipped with pedestrian detection systems.
“While vehicles stand out to other drivers at night through exterior lighting, pedestrians are at risk because they’re much harder to see,” says Jennifer Stockburger, who leads CR’s headlight testing. “We’ve been testing headlights since 2004, primarily to improve drivers’ ability to see pedestrians. Better AEB systems can only make roads safer by using technology to help drivers see what they can’t see.