An article by Aarian Marshall from Wired.com brings up how terms like Automatic Emergency Braking, Collision Imminent Braking, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Collision Intervention, Autonomous Braking, and Dynamic Brake system all actually mean the same thing and are just some examples of the different words and phrasing that automaker’s marketing teams come up with to make their technology of automatic emergency braking systems to seem unique and appealing.
As of a week ago, the Department of Transportation is supporting efforts to educate the entire auto industry- drivers, dealers, manufacturers and marketers on the approved language surrounding new technology in personal vehicles. The list of approved terms was released a year prior and states that when operating a vehicle, “the driver is responsible for the primary task of driving”, whether it be a Tesla using their ‘Autopilot’ feature or a Ford with ‘Pre-Collision Assist and Automatic Emergency Braking’.
Studies by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety show that drivers overestimate the range of capabilities in features like ‘Autopilot’ or ‘Adaptive Cruise Control’ as well as automatic emergency braking systems. A review by AAA showed that in the U.S. automaker marketers use 20 different terms for adaptive cruise control and 19 different terms for blind-spot warning systems. Another study done by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety looked at police report data and insurance claim data to find that vehicles with front collision warning features were involved in 27% less front-rear accidents than those without and vehicles with front collision warning features and automatic emergency braking systems were involved in 50% less front-rear accidents.
The list of approved terms released last year by the Department of Transportation won’t fix the issues of vague or confusing marketing in the auto industry but they will lead to a list of mandated terms of which manufacturers can use to describe their technological features. The list, as stated before, aims to educate drivers (consumers) about the reality of the capabilities of the features in their vehicles, but also will shape the future for regulation on informing consumers of what the fancy marketing terms actually mean.