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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

New Vehicle Technology Reduce Crash Claims - Sometimes

A new study released today by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows that some of the new crash avoidance technology in upper end cars provide protection from collisions while one system, inexplicably, seems to have hurt rather than helped to avoid crashes.

The IIHS looked at data based on insurance claims involving vehicles equipped with: Forward Collision Warning, Adaptive Headlights, and Lane Departure Warning systems. The data was compared to crash data for the same model vehicles without the optional technology.  

The results of their findings revealed: 

  • Forward Collision Warning (FCW) - warns drivers if they are approaching vehicles ahead so quickly that there might be a crash. In some, but not all, models, the FCW is autonomous, automatically applying the brakes if the driver doesn’t respond in time. The researchers found that claim frequencies for FCW with autonomous braking was lower by fourteen percent. In vehicles containing FCW without the autonomous feature, claims were also reduced but not by a large percentage.
  • Adaptive Headlights (AH) – AH swivel the headlights slightly in the direction of a turn giving the driver a view of the road around a curve or turn that is unavailable with standard headlights. Claims for vehicles equipped with AH were ten percent lower. Injury claims for vehicles equipped with AH fell significantly.

  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW) – LDW warns drivers, usually through an audible tone, that the vehicle is leaving the lane.  In a surprise to the researchers, the data showed that, compared to vehicles without LDW, the claim rate, while slightly lower, wasn’t reduced enough to be statistically significant. The IIHS had previously calculated that this system would mitigate up to 7500 crashes per year but this doesn’t appear to be the case. The researchers didn’t have an explanation for the low rate of improved crash avoidance with LDW; they speculate that the systems may be giving too many false alarms, causing the driver to disable them. More research will be needed to determine why this system isn’t living up to its promise.

For more information on the study, visit:

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