Drivers should be mindful of pedestrians at all times, but nighttime can be especially perilous for pedestrian collisions. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, pedestrian fatalities accounted for nearly a fifth of all traffic deaths in 2021, three-quarters of which occurred after dark. Even as more new vehicles employ automatic emergency braking systems with pedestrian detection, a previous IIHS study on the efficacy of such systems found they often fail to work in the dark. Now, the agency has launched a new crash test to evaluate the performance of AEB after the sun goes down.
Related: Here’s Every Car That Earned an IIHS Top Safety Award for 2022
Testing After Dark
The new IIHS test simulates two nighttime pedestrian scenarios: an adult crossing the road and an adult walking along the edge of the road parallel to traffic. For the crossing scenario, the vehicle is evaluated at speeds of 12 and 25 mph, while the parallel test is conducted at 25 and 37 mph. IIHS assigns a vehicle’s score based on its average speed reduction in five test runs on dry pavement, and with the headlights on high- and low-beam settings. If a car uses a camera-based system, the rating only applies to models with the same headlights as the tested vehicle because they may impact the system’s performance.