Consumer Reports evaluates automatic emergency brakes

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Diana Williams has the latest details. (KGO-TV)

Automatic emergency braking systems have proven they prevent car accidents. But many manufacturers only offer this safety feature on some models, or not at all.

RELATED: List of cars with advanced safety systems

Twenty automakers have just committed to making this life-saving feature standard in the coming years. Consumer Reports evaluated these safety systems and found they do have the potential to be important lifesavers.

Mike and Linda Hanson were driving for hours on the highway when Mike says he zoned out.

"The next thing that I remember is the car braking, the alarm going off almost simultaneously, Linda yelling my name and I looked and all of a sudden we've got this concrete abutment right dead ahead of us," he said.

The accident was avoided because the collision-prevention system in their 2014 Dodge Durango kicked in.

Consumer Reports tests these advanced safety features that use a laser, radar, or camera to anticipate a frontal crash.

Automatic emergency braking applies the brakes as the vehicle approaches an object, without the driver even touching the pedal.

This safety system is already saving lives.

"We would have been at the very least seriously injured, probably killed," said Mike

About 60 percent of all new cars offer similar safety technology, but often as an optional package that costs anywhere from $500 to $3,000 extra.

"Manufacturers of nearly all cars have voluntarily agreed to include these systems as standard equipment by the year 2022," said Jennifer Stockburger with Consumer Reports Auto Safety. "Until that time, we will continue to evaluate them as they are introduced."

Consumer Reports has changed its car rating system, giving bonus points to vehicles that include this safety technology standard on all its trim lines.

In addition to testing collision prevention systems, Consumer Reports surveys its subscribers to find how well the systems work. In the most recent survey of 3,000 readers, 36 percent said the system had saved them from an accident.

Click here to find out which cars have the advanced safety features.
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