We know that autonomous emergency braking (AEB) systems are capable of preventing accidents, but what we don’t know is if they actually do so in real life. Now, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in the United States has published results of a study on the effectiveness of these systems in the real world, and the results are eye-opening to say the least.

The organisation looked at the accident rates of General Motors vehicles with and without optional AEB and forward collision warning systems and found that those equipped with the driver assistance features were involved in 43% fewer police-reported front-to-rear crashes of all severities. That figure jumped to an astounding 64% when looking solely at crashes that resulted in injuries.

Even vehicles that only warn of an impending crash (i.e. no auto braking) reduced all rear-end collisions by 17%, and injury-inducing ones by 30%. The results echoed an earlier study conducted on Acura, Fiat Chrysler, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru and Volvo vehicles, which saw a 50% reduction in crashes (56% for crashes with injuries) for cars fitted with AEB, and 27% and 20% respectively for cars with warning only.

“The evidence has been mounting that front crash prevention works, and it works even better when it doesn’t solely rely on a response from the driver,” said IIHS vice president for research Jessica Cicchino, who authored both these studies.

The study involved 2013 to 2015 Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC models, with GM providing the vehicle identification numbers (VINs) for vehicles with and without AEB and forward collision warning. These were cross-referenced with information on police-reported crashes from 23 states, with a focus on front-to-rear crashes that these systems are designed to help prevent or mitigate.

Autonomous emergency braking has yet to become a standard feature in the US, but 20 carmakers – representing over 99% of the automotive market there – have agreed to make AEB standard on virtually all new passenger vehicles by September 2022. What do you think? Has your car’s AEB system prevented or mitigated a crash? Sound off in the comments section after the jump.