By Jeff Gilbert

WASHINGTON, DC (WWJ) – A new study shows that two new active safety systems, that are starting to appear on cars, are preventing accidents.

The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) looked at insurance claims. They found vehicles with collision warning systems showed a 14 percent reduction in accidents. Adaptive headlights saw a 10 percent reduction.

“They are reducing collisions,” says HDLI chief researcher David Zuby. “Some of the other systems, I think, more time will tell.”

Collision warning systems sound an audible alert when a collision is imminent. In some cases they provide emergency braking the second a driver puts his or her foot on the brake.

Safety advocates say even a fraction of a second can make a big difference in the time it takes to stop a vehicle.

Adaptive headlights provide better visibility by shining the light in the direction a vehicle is headed.

“As more automakers offer advanced technologies on their vehicles, insurance data provide an early glimpse of how these features perform in the real world,” says HDLI vice president Matt Moore. “So far, forward collision technology is reducing claims, particularly for damage to other vehicles, and adaptive headlights are having an even bigger impact than we had anticipated.”

Two other active safety technologies are showing mixed results.

Blind spot warning systems aren’t yet showing a significant reduction in crashes. And, there’s actually a slight increase in crashes involving vehicles that have lane departure warning systems.

Researcher David Zuby said that could be because many drivers have complained the systems are over sensitive. That might mean they are turning them off, or ignoring them.

“The estimates aren’t statistically significant,” he said. “But, the fact that they went up, rather than stayed around zero is of concern to us.”

What it really means, Zuby says, is that more research is needed.

The results follow a study last year that showed Volvo’s City Safety, which warned of low-speed collisions and applied the brakes in some cases prevented crashes.

“It’s clear that certain systems, such as those that help drivers avoid collisions with the vehicle in front or better illuminate the road ahead, can play a role in making roads safer for everyone,” said Zuby.

This comes as carmakers, suppliers and even tech companies like Google are combining active safety technologies to create self-driving cars.

“What our results suggest is that autonomous driving is possible,” Zuby told WWJ AutoBeat Reporter Jeff Gilbert. “But, it may be complicated enough that it will take a little more time the most optimistic estimates for driverless cars.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Twitter: @jefferygilbert


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