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How Effective Are Crash Avoidance Technologies at Preventing Accidents?

Recently, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) evaluated various crash avoidance features to determine their effectiveness. They used insurance claim data from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) to assess these potentially life-saving technologies, providing important information for residents of California and throughout the United States, explains a personal injury attorney.


The crash avoidance technologies studied included forward collision avoidance systems, adaptive headlights, lane departure warnings, city safety, blind spot detection, and parking assist systems. 


The Results of IIHS Studies


The IIHS studies indicated that certain crash avoidance technologies were much more effective than others: 


  • A forward collision avoidance system was found to cause a slight reduction in injury claims; however, this reduction was also not found statistically significant. 
  • Adaptive headlights reduced claims for property damage by as much as 10 percent. For Mazda models, adaptive headlights caused a reduction in claims of as much as 30 percent. Adaptive headlights are headlights that change direction in accordance with which way the driver steers. 
  • Blind spot detection showed no clear effect on claims made or crash rates. 
  • Parking assist systems also had no impact on crash rates. 
  • Lane departure warnings appeared to increase the number of claims; however, again these results were not found to be statistically significant, and HLDI indicated that further study of this finding is necessary. These systems warn drivers if they appear to be veering into another lane. 

Similar Studies


The IIHS study is not the first to indicate that collision avoidance warnings can have a significant impact in increasing driver safety. A 2003 study entitled “The Effectiveness of Auditory Side- and Forward Collision Avoidance Warnings on Snow Covered Roads in Conditions of Poor Visibility” also indicated that forward and side collision warnings could be effective at preventing accidents. This study focused on response time of drivers who were given various auditory warnings of an impending collision on a snowy road. While the aim was to assess which types of auditory warnings were most effective at getting driver attention, all warnings given were able to increase driver response time as compared to when no warning was given. 


A 2010 study called “Effectiveness and Driver Acceptance of a Semi-Autonomous Forward Obstacle Collision Avoidance System” conducted by the Department of Risk Engineering in Tsukuba, Japan also investigated the effectiveness of improved safety and driver acceptance of semi-autonomous forward obstacle collision avoidance systems. The focus of the study was on technologies that intervened if drivers did not respond to an obstacle.  The results demonstrated that semi-autonomous forward collision avoidance systems were effective at reducing accidents, even when obstacles appeared suddenly.


Finally, a Department of Transportation study addressed similar technologies and released a report in July 2011 entitled “Traffic Safety Facts: Crash Warning Interface Metrics, Phase 2.  This study involved warnings issued when a driver began to shift lanes; warnings issued when a vehicle in front (a “lead vehicle”) slowed or stopped; and warnings issued when the lead vehicle moved out of the way suddenly and revealed a stopped vehicle. Essentially, therefore, these warning systems evaluated were front-collision avoidance systems and lane-drifting warning systems similar to those studied by the IIHS. The DOT studies revealed that all tested modes were better than when no warning was issued and that drivers responded faster to hazards or lane shifting when receiving a warning. 


Additional traffic safety and legal resources, such as books and articles on accident studies and the civil claims process after a collision, are available to the public free of charge through our office’s Preferred Friends and Clients Program.


If you would like to request one of these free resources, or to speak with a California personal injury attorney, feel free to call 866-981-5596. 

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