Consumer Reports tests collision-prevention systems

20 automakers commit to making this life-saving feature standard by 2022

Automatic emergency-braking systems prevent car accidents, but many manufacturers don’t offer the safety feature or they offer it only on some models.

That’s about to change.

Twenty automakers have just committed to making the life-saving feature standard by 2022. Consumer Reports evaluated the safety systems and said they have the potential to be important life-savers.

Mike and Linda Hanson were driving for hours on the highway when Mike said he zoned out.

“The next thing that I remember is the car braking, the alarm going off almost simultaneously, Linda yelling my name, 'Mike!' and I looked and all of a sudden we’ve got this concrete abutment right dead ahead of us,” Mike explained.

The accident was avoided because the collision-prevention system in their 2014 Dodge Durango kicked in.

Consumer Reports tested the advanced safety features that use a laser, radar or camera to anticipate a front-end crash. Automatic emergency braking applies the brakes as the vehicle approaches an object, without the driver even touching the pedal.

This safety system is already saving lives.

"We would have been at the very least seriously injured, probably killed,” Mike Hanson said.

In 2016, about 60 percent of all new cars offer similar safety technology, but often as an optional package costing anywhere from $500 to $3,000 extra. 

“Manufacturers of nearly all cars have voluntarily agreed to include these systems as standard equipment by the year 2022. Until that time, we will continue to evaluate them as they are introduced,” explained Jennifer Stockburger with Consumer Reports Auto Testing.

Consumer Reports has changed its car-rating system -- giving bonus points to vehicles that include this safety technology standard on all their trim lines.

In addition to testing collision-prevention systems, Consumer Reports surveyed its subscribers on how well the systems work. The most recent survey of 3,000 people found 36 percent said the system had saved them from an accident.

See Consumer Reports' list of vehicles that now have the advanced safety feature here.