A Mazda sport-utility vehicle equipped with an automatic-braking system crashed in Japan on Nov. 10 during a dealership test drive, injuring the driver and front-seat passenger, according to the police.
The Mazda CX-5 was being driven by a prospective buyer on the dealership’s parking lot when it crashed through a urethane barrier set up to demonstrate the SUV’s automatic braking feature, according to the Saitama Prefectural Police, which is investigating the accident. The customer suffered a neck injury while the dealership employee sitting in the front passenger seat fractured his arm, the police also said.
“For any safety function, it’s impossible to be 100 percent free of accidents,” said Hiroshi Ataka, a Tokyo-based auto parts analyst at IHS Automotive. “These technical functions aren’t always the easiest to understand.”
Mazda is investigating the case and will cooperate with police if asked to, said Makoto Watanabe, a spokesman for the Hiroshima, Japan-based automaker. The company can’t comment on whether there have been previous cases where the auto-brake system for the CX-5 didn’t work, he said.
Automatic braking first appeared in premium brands and is part of a move toward automated driving systems that carmakers are developing to help reduce human error and accidents.
Mazda’s system, called Smart City Brake Support, uses a laser sensor to detect obstacles in front of the car to avoid or mitigate collisions by automatically applying the brakes, according to its website. If the driver speeds up when an obstacle is detected, the system is designed to sound an alert while curbing engine output to stop unintended acceleration.