Automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems that can detect pedestrians are preventing pedestrian crashes — but only in the daytime or on well-lit roads, according to a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

In all light conditions, crash rates for pedestrian crashes of all severities were 27 percent lower for vehicles equipped with pedestrian AEB than for unequipped vehicles and injury crash rates were 30 percent lower. However, when researchers looked only at pedestrian crashes that occurred at night on roads without streetlights, there was no difference in crash risk for vehicles with and without pedestrian AEB.

“This is the first real-world study of pedestrian AEB to cover a broad range of manufacturers, and it proves the technology is eliminating crashes,” said Jessica Cicchino, IIHS Vice President of Research and the study’s author.

“Unfortunately, it also shows these systems are much less effective in the dark, where three-quarters of fatal pedestrian crashes happen.”

To address the shortcomings identified by Cicchino’s the research, IIHS is now developing a nighttime test, with plans to publish the first official nighttime pedestrian crash prevention ratings later this year.