There are several reasons why I like Volkswagen’s new “Dad, Stop!” commercial showcasing the emergency braking system in the 2016 Passat. First, I drive a teenager to school. He jumps out of the car as quickly as possible when we arrive. Apparently there is nothing to be gained socially by being seen with your mother. So I can identify. Second, I was rear-ended a few weeks ago. The back of my car was damaged, and the car that hit mine had to be towed from the scene. All of its airbags deployed on impact. I’m just glad no one was hurt. Automatic emergency braking (if it works the way it appears to in the commercial) would have prevented that accident.Third, my mother looked over at me in a similar way to the dad in the commercial as we were leaving my wedding rehearsal many years ago. When she looked back ahead, she saw brake lights. She swerved off the road to avoid hitting the car in front of us and ran over a fire hydrant. What a mess. Automatic emergency braking might have gotten us all to the rehearsal dinner on time.
The National Transportation Safety Board also thinks automatic emergency braking, which it calls “collision avoidance technology” is a laudable concept. In fact, promoting the availability of this technology made the NTSB’s 2016 Most Wanted List. NTSB has issued such a list for more than 25 years. The chairman described the list in a recent press conference as a “roadmap from lessons learned to lives saved.” Continue reading