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Honda Accord, CR-V’s Automatic Emergency Braking System Being Investigated

2018 Honda Accord | Photo: Honda
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Daniel Rufiange
Overall, safety features are massively beneficial, but when they misfire, they can also be a hazard

The safety features modern vehicles are loaded have allowed for greatly improving road safety in countries across the globe. But as with any technology, when those features malfunction or fail, they can represent a safety risk.

Case in point, Honda's Accord and CR-V, the subject of a new investigation by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), the equivalent of Transport Canada. The safety watchdog is looking particularly at the automatic emergency braking system in use in these two models. The specific issue is that the system can suddenly apply the vehicle’s braking even when there are no obstacles in front of the vehicle.

This can be very problematic, if only because the braking can come suddenly and without warning to other motorists behind. So far, 278 complaints have been recorded by the NHTSA; 107 cases involve the 2018-2019 Accord, and 171 cases the 2017-2019 CR-V.  

NHTSA reported that six of those cases involved collisions and minor injuries. In 2018, it was estimated that about one million Honda vehicles were equipped with the safety feature, which is part of the Honda Sensing suite that the automaker strives to make standard with as many of its models as possible.

Indeed, Honda is one of 20 automakers that have agreed to a plan to make automatic emergency braking standard on at least 95 percent of its vehicles by 2022. The company said it intends to meet that goal two years ahead of schedule. Earlier this month, Honda said the Honda Sensing suite is now standard or optional on all new models. It is in use in nearly five million Honda vehicles currently on American roads.

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2017 Honda CR-V
2017 Honda CR-V | Photo: Honda

Could other Honda vehicles eventually be targeted by the investigation? It's obviously possible, but for now, the Accord and CR-V are the only ones affected by the NHTSA investigation.

When asked about the matter, a Honda spokesperson told Car and Driver that the driver assistance system configuration of each model benefits from different programming depending on the parameters of the vehicle in question. The company says it is committed to cooperating fully with the NHTSA throughout the investigation process.

Daniel Rufiange
Daniel Rufiange
Automotive expert
  • Over 17 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 75 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 250 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists