Nissan, safety agency looking into auto-braking miscues in SUVs

Investigators

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A system designed to help prevent accidents in some new SUVs is undergoing changes. Drivers alerted Nissan that the Rogue was stopping without warning.

The Nissan Rogue uses radar to detect obstacles directly ahead of it. The technology is supposed to detect a potential collision and brake in time if the driver doesn’t.

The automaker admits things like railroad crossings, low-handing lights, or a metal overpass may cause the auto-braking to activate without warning.

Cindy Walsh of Zebulon said that since she purchased her Rouge last October, it slammed on the brakes four times when no collision was imminent.

“The first one, I was driving down a four-lane highway going about 55 and it completely came to a complete stop,” she told CBS News.

She said she’s scared of the car.

“I don’t drive it,” she said.

The system is supposed to sound an alarm before automatically braking if the driver is about to rear-end another vehicle and hasn’t applied the brakes first.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said there have been nearly 850 complaints involving the automatic braking systems of 2017 and 2018 Rouges. That includes reports of 14 crashes and five injuries.

Nissan has started sending out voluntary recall notices to Rouge owners saying the problem is a “software issue” and will be fixed for free by the dealer. It said it is “committed to the safety and security of our customers.”

Since 2015, CBS News reported there had been seven recalls for auto-braking issues affecting nearly 180,000 vehicles.

NHTSA said it has received hundreds of complaints about so-called phantom braking in vehicles from a number of automakers — not just Nissan.

That has some drivers avoiding the technology, which is also raising concerns among safety advocates.

“The technology can help and does save you and prevents crashes, but only if it’s on and only if it’s working,” said Jason Levine of the Center for Auto Safety.

NHTSA is now looking into the problems with Nissan’s auto-braking.

Nissan said in its voluntary recall initiative that if you notice the vehicle is starting to brake for no reason, you can override the system by pressing the accelerator.

Those who’ve had the software update to their vehicle said it takes a very short amount of time to enact once an appointment is made to have it done.

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