NHTSA Investigating Honda Emergency Braking Issue

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defects Investigation is opening a “Preliminary Evaluation” of 2018-19 Honda Accord midsize cars and 2017-19 Honda CR-V compact crossovers for unintended automatic emergency braking. 

The 2019 Honda Accord is among the models affected by NHTSA’s investigation.

The agency opened the inquiry after receiving 278 complaints — 107 for the Accord and 171 for the CR-V. The inadvertent incidents include those “with large speed changes, occurring with nothing obstructing the vehicle’s path of travel” according to NHTSA’s document, which was posted Thursday.

“The complaints allege that the inadvertent braking events occur without warning and randomly,” the document states. “ODI is opening this Preliminary Evaluation to determine the scope and severity of the potential problem and to fully assess the potential safety-related issues.”

The agency is concerned because unexpected emergency braking activation can greatly reduce speed and lead to rear-end collisions.

AEB is an increasingly common feature

2022 BMW M440i xDrive Gran Coupe
BMW is among the automakers with more than 95% of its vehicles equipped with AEB.

Automatic emergency braking, or AEB, is an increasingly common standard feature. Honda is among 12 automakers that have installed AEB as standard equipment on more than 95% of its 2020-21 vehicles, sold under the Honda and Acura brand names. Other automakers with standard AEB include Audi, BMW, Hyundai/Genesis, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota/Lexus, Volkswagen and Volvo.

Some automakers have come close to hitting the mark, including Mitsubishi and Nissan/Infiniti, which installed AEB on nine out of 10 vehicles last year. Kia also just missed the mark, equipping 89% of its vehicles with AEB. Maserati also made big strides, equipping 72% of its vehicles with AEB, up from 48% a year earlier.

But other automakers are falling short, including General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Porsche and Stellantis.

The effort is the result of a voluntary effort prompted by NHTSA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

But more vehicles will be getting AEB, thanks to the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the infrastructure law passed by Congress. NHTSA will be issuing a rule requiring automatic emergency braking and pedestrian automatic emergency braking on all new vehicles.

Tesla Model 3 - RHD
About 416,000 2021 and 2022 Tesla Model 3s are being investigated.

Tesla is facing similar problems

Tesla is also facing scrutiny from NHTSA concerning a similar issue.

Federal safety officials are now reviewing complaints of random brake activation of Autopilot, Tesla’s advanced driver-assistance system. The investigation was started after receiving 354 complaints about the issue in the last nine months, and covers 416,000 Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles from 2021-22.

One owner reported in October that while driving on a Model Y on the highway at 80 mph “the car braked hard and decelerated from 80 mph to 69 mph in less than a second. The braking was so violent, my head snapped forward and I almost lost control of the car.”

Like the Honda inquiry, NHTSA’s Tesla investigation is a Preliminary Evaluation to determine the scope and severity of the potential problem.

Patton plays games driving Model 3
Tesla came under fire after it was discovered that it was possible to play video games while driving a Tesla Model 3.

Autopilot continues to be a source of work for NHTSA, which continues to investigate the system. Earlier this month, the safety agency forced Tesla to recall 817,143 vehicles for reminder chimes that are supposed to alert drivers who have failed to buckle up, but don’t. That’s considered a defect under FMVSS 208. 

NHTSA has also forced Tesla to delete a feature that allowed motorists to play videogames on their Tesla infotainment screens while driving, as well as deactivate its new “Full Self-Driving” system that allowed vehicles to roll through stop signs at speeds up to nearly 6 mph.

NHTSA also continues to investigate Autopilot’s propensity to crash into emergency response vehicles parked on the side of the road, rendering aid. Since then 12 incidents have occurred.

Not a problem for others

But while Tesla, and to a lesser extent Honda, are affected by glitches in AEB technology, it should be noted that other OEMs that widely use AEB — Audi, BMW, Hyundai/Genesis, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan/Infiniti, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota/Lexus, Volkswagen and Volvo — do not seem to be affected.

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