The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, otherwise also known as the IIHS, performed a new set of tests earlier this year, aimed at finding out which manufacturers offer the best pedestrian protection systems. The test focused on the automatic emergency braking systems, which are supposed to slow down or even bring your car to a complete stop in case you might hit a pedestrian. The BMW 3 Series was one of the top performers, alongside the Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

The ratings system splits the cars tested in four categories: Superior, Advanced, Basic and No Credit. The Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Nissan Maxima, Subaru Outback and Volvo S60 have systems that earned superior ratings. They avoided collisions or slowed substantially in track tests. At the other end of the spectrum, the Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima earned no credit because they failed to slow significantly in multiple scenarios.

The C-Class, 3 Series and Chevrolet Malibu each offer two different pedestrian crash prevention systems. On the C-Class, the optional system earned a superior rating, while the standard one earned a basic rating. On the 3 Series, the standard system surprisingly earned a higher rating of superior, while the more costly optional system earned an advanced rating. Many manufacturers are upgrading the automatic emergency braking systems they have agreed to install by 2022 to recognize pedestrians, in addition to other vehicles.

Most pedestrian crash prevention systems use one or two forward-facing cameras mounted near the rearview mirror and/or radar sensors in the front grille to scan the roadway for pedestrians poised to enter the vehicle’s path. Algorithms determine if the detected objects are pedestrians. In some cases, they can recognize bicyclists or animals too. If the software calculates that a collision is imminent, it alerts the driver and applies the brakes faster than a human can react.

These systems scan the path ahead and automatically apply the brakes to avoid hitting people in the roadway. When they work correctly, such systems can help avert tragedy. “Pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users, so it’s encouraging that pedestrian crash prevention systems are standard equipment in 12 out of the 16 midsize cars we tested, including five out of six superior-rated systems,” said IIHS President David Harkey.

Here is a demo video of the test performed: