Autobraking tech to be standard by 2022, drivers complain of ‘phantom braking’


(CBS NEWSPATH) – There are new questions about some of the safety technology found in a rising number of new cars.

Automatic emergency braking will be standard in most cars in 2022.

The brakes are expected to cut the number of rear end crashes in half. But hundreds of drivers said sometimes the system slams on the brakes for no apparent reason.

For river Cindy Walsh, just getting behind the wheel of her 2018 Nissan Rogue raises her anxiety level.

She said since she bought the SUV new last October, and it has slammed on the brakes three times for no clear reason. She said there was no risk of a collision.

“The first one, I was driving down a four lane highway going about 55 and it completely came to a complete stop,” Walsh said.

The reporter asked, “How do you feel about driving the car now?”

“I’m scared to. I don’t- I don’t drive it,” Walsh said.

Walsh said took it to the dealer each time, and they told her twice they had fixed it.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been investigating the 2017 and 2018 Rogue after learning of nearly 850 complaints of false activation of the SUV’s automatic braking system. That includes reports of 14 crashes and five injuries.

The Center for Autosafety’s Jason Levine said drivers will be driving down the road and the vehicle will just stop.

The Rogue, like about half of new cars sold, is equipped with forward collision avoidance technology that includes automatic emergency braking. It’s supposed to sound an alarm and automatically brake if you are about to rear end another vehicle.

“People saying they were turning it off. The technology can help and does save you and prevents crashes, but only if it’s on and only if it’s working. We want to see this move towards a recall very quickly,” Levine said.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said autobraking is making driving safer, estimating the technology could cut rear end collisions in half, preventing 28,000 crashes and 12,000 injuries by 2025.

Since 2015, there have been seven recalls for autobraking issues, effecting nearly 180,000 vehicles. There are more than half a million Nissan Rogues subject to the NHTSA investigation.

And the regulator has received hundreds of complaints about so called phantom braking in vehicles from a number of automakers.

In a statement, Nissan acknowledges some Rogue drivers may experience “false activation” on “unique road conditions” like some “railroad crossings, bridges, and low hanging traffic lights.” But the company said it is “committed to the safety and security of our customers” and has made a free software update available at dealerships.

Walsh was not convinced.

“I don’t feel safe driving it anymore. I don’t feel safe putting my family in it, so I don’t want the car,” she said.

Walsh won in arbitration. After paying for mileage, she’ll be able to return her Rogue.

Automakers insist this driver assistance technology will save lives and will continue to improve.

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