Collision Avoidance Technology is Preventing More Car Crashes As Systems Improve: IIHS Study

A new report by highway safety experts finds that certain combinations of modern collision avoidance technologies are more effective than others, calling for officials to standardize the effective systems in all new vehicles.

The advanced driver assistance technology report was released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) on April 16, which found that automatic emergency braking (AEB), blind spot warning (BSW) and forward collision warning (FCW) systems prevent bodily injury claims by more than 15%, while other technologies, such as lane centering warning (LCW), offered no significant benefit in avoiding car crashes.

Researchers from the Highway Loss Data Institute reviewed claims data for BMW vehicles equipped with various combinations of collision avoidance packages from 2013 through 2017, to determine which driver assistance systems offered the most significant benefit in reducing the rate of collision, property damage liability and bodily injury liability claims per insured vehicle year.

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According to their findings, three of the four crash avoidance packages were associated with reductions in claim rates. The most effective combination of technologies included vehicles equipped with forward collision warning, lane departure warning and automatic emergency braking. This combination was found to have a 5% reduction in collision claims, an 11% reduction in frequency of property damage claims and a 16% reduction in the frequency of bodily injury claims.

Researchers suggested premium features that certain added features or upgrades to driver assistance packages, such as adaptive cruise control, lane centering warning, front cross-traffic alerts, were not found to have any significant impact on the reduction in claims.

Of the BMW models with less features, those with only forward collision warning and lane departure warning systems were associated with a 2% increase in the frequency of collision claims, a 5% increase in the frequency of property damage claims and an 11% increase in the frequency of bodily injury claims, highlighting the significance of AEB technology.

AEB technology includes a wide variety of systems designed to prevent collisions in which the driver does not react fast enough or does not apply sufficient braking power to avoid or mitigate a crash. The AEB systems use multiple on-vehicle sensors such as radar, cameras, and lasers to detect potential crash threats. The systems are designed to recognize collision threats from these sensors and engage the vehicles brakes if the driver does not react quick enough or apply enough braking power.

Over the last several years, the NHTSA and other agencies have worked with vehicle manufacturers to improve vehicle safety technology, specifically with the intent of preventing distracted driving collisions, which account for nearly 95% of all roadway accidents, according to the agency.

In March 2016, NHTSA officials were able to get 20 automobile manufacturers, which account for more than 90% of the nation’s vehicle fleet, to publicly commit to implementing AEB technology in all standard lightweight vehicles, rather than charging a premium to consumers to add the technology as a luxury feature.

Studies have found forward collision warning and AEB systems are able to reduce front-to-rear crashes by nearly half. In a previous IIHS study involving Acura, Fiat Chrysler, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru and Volvo vehicles, the combination for the two technologies reduce crashes by 50 percent of all severities, and by 56 percent of those involving injuries.

A 2018 study released by the NHTSA found older vehicles equipped with less safety technology and crash mitigation systems are much more likely to be involved in crashes resulting in death or severe injury.

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