Cattle grid triggers emergency brakes in some modern cars

Cattle grids don’t just stop cows! Metal grates trigger emergency brakes in new cars forcing drivers to skid off the road

  • Somerset council said cattle grids are leaving some modern cars confused
  • The cars mistake the grids for obstructions and automatically brakes the vehicle
  • The council have spent £70,000 addressing adapting the grid to 

Some modern cars are being left confused by cattle grids because emergency braking systems mistake them for obstructions, a council has said.

Somerset council has warned that the cattle grid on Hill Road in Minehead was causing a ‘very real danger’, the BBC  reports.

The emergency braking system used in some modern cars mistakes the cattle grids as for hazards in the road and slows the car down.

Somerset council has said that cattle grids, including the one on Hill Road in Minehead (pictured) are leaving some modern cars with emergency braking systems confused

The council has said that this automatic braking process has caused a number of incidents involving cars being forced to leave the road – though there have been no serious collisions.

£70,000 has now been spent by the council trying to fix the cattle grid so that cars are not affected by it. 

David Peake, Somerset council’s highways service manager, told the BBC: ‘It’s quite a steep hill and the cattle grid’s got to be reasonably level.

‘But the problem was this sudden change in gradient. Some of the car’s sensors were detecting this as a wall so automatically applied the brakes.

The council has said that this automatic braking process has caused a number of incidents involving cars being forced to leave the road – though there have been no serious collisions (stock image)

‘So we’ve actually re-profiled it to take out the sudden change in gradient.’

Professor Andrew Graves, automotive analyst at the University of Bath, said that technology such as the brake assist has been around for 4o years but that a lot of technology isn’t clever enough.

He explained that if a motorist is following someone else too closely or if there is a barrier in front of a car, the vehicle will apply its breaks automatically.

He said that modern cars are ‘pretty good’ at this but are still not perfect. 

What is brake assist? 

Brake assist is an advanced safety system that is become increasingly more common amongst models including family vehicles in the new car market.

Essentially, brake assist systems help reduce the stopping distance when emergency braking takes place in a car. 

This feature is smart enough to detect when the driver is panic braking, presumable in a scenario where they are trying to avoid colliding with something, and generates maximum pressure to the brakes in response.

When the driver applies maximum pressure on the brake pedal at a sudden rate and when travelling at speed, the brake assist system works in conjunction with the anti-lock brake system, a feature found on virtually all modern cars.

While the anti-lock system is there to make sure the brakes don’t end up locking the wheels, skidding the car further forward than intended, the brake assist system ensures maximum braking power is provided when the situation demands it.

Therefore, cars with brake assist have a shorter stopping distance compared to those without such a driver aid.

Standard brake assist relies on initial human input, whereas Autonomous brake assist senses potential hazards and slows the car down. 


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