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AAA: Automatic Braking Systems Meant To Save Pedestrians Fail In Nearly Every Test

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – With pedestrian accidents on the rise across the country, many new cars are testing technology designed to put the brakes on and prevent a tragedy.

But, just how reliable are these new systems?

The American Automobile Association is out with new research and the findings are far from perfect.

Emergency braking systems can save lives. Many new cars are equipped with sensors that can detect a pedestrian and stop automatically if the driver doesn't.

Greg Brannon with AAA tested four midsize sedans. While safety experts say improvements are coming, "we found that in many situations the vehicles struggled," Brannon said.

In one scenario a child darted out from behind two cars. Ninety percent of the time the technology failed to stop a vehicle traveling 20 miles per hour.

Every time a car turned a corner it hit the pedestrian and when a sedan going 20 miles per hour encountered two adults it hit them 80 percent of the time.

aaa hit pedestrian
(Credit: AAA)

The results were even worse in the dark.

"The biggest thing we uncovered is the fact that these systems do not work at night. And if you look at the situation where the pedestrians are most vulnerable, it's at night," the AAA Director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations said.

Earlier this year from the Insurance Institute for Highway found most SUV's tested during the day were able to avoid a crash or at least slow down.

Brannon says the new tech should be embraced and given time to become more consistent.

"Are you better to have it even if it doesn't work every case you would like it to work in?" CBS' Kris Van Cleave asked.

"Absolutely these systems have great potential, these are systems that are meant as a backstop to a really engaged driver," Brannon replied.

Automakers have agreed to put the technology in almost all new cars by 2022. Experts hope it will be much better by then.

On average nearly 6,000 pedestrians lose their lives in traffic accidents every year.

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