Are front crash prevention systems less effective at preventing rear-end crashes where trucks and motorcycles are struck?

Cicchino, Jessica B. / Kidd, David G.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
December 2023

Objective: Automatic emergency braking (AEB) and forward collision warning (FCW) are effective at preventing rear-end crashes, but they may perform better in some rear-end crash scenarios than others. The goal of this study was to estimate the effects of front crash prevention systems equipped to passenger vehicles in crashes where another passenger vehicle, a medium/heavy truck, or a motorcycle is struck and compare effectiveness by struck vehicle type.
Methods: More than 160,000 two-vehicle rear-end crashes were identified where a passenger vehicle with or without FCW and AEB was the striking vehicle and another passenger vehicle, medium/heavy truck, or motorcycle was the struck vehicle. Poisson regression was used to estimate the effect of front crash prevention by struck vehicle type on rear-end crash rates per registered vehicle year, accounting for the state and year of the crash and the make, model year, class, and engine type of the striking vehicle.
Results: Front crash prevention was associated with a 53% reduction in rear-end crash rates when striking another passenger vehicle, which was significantly larger than the reductions of 38% when striking a medium/heavy truck and 41% when striking a motorcycle. Reductions in rear-end injury crash rates when striking a passenger vehicle also were larger than when striking a medium/heavy truck and when striking a motorcycle.
Discussion: If all passenger vehicles were equipped with FCW and AEB that were as effective in crashes striking a truck or motorcycle as they are in crashes with another passenger vehicle, over 5,500 additional crashes with medium/heavy trucks and 500 with motorcycles could potentially be prevented annually in the United States above what would be expected from current front crash prevention systems. Extending front crash prevention testing in consumer information programs to include motorcycle and truck targets could encourage auto manufacturers to improve performance in these crash scenarios.
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