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Collision data focuses on in-vehicle crash-avoidance systems

Do active safety systems help drivers avoid car accidents? A recent study by the Highway Loss Data Institute, a division of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), uncovered interesting results.

Examining property damage claims filed by drivers involved in car crashes across the country, including in Ohio, the research study found that sometimes this wonderful new technology may be contributing to a surprising increase in car accidents. Consider some pros and cons of new high-tech safety systems.

Some upscale autos with collision avoidance systems enjoyed a 14 percent decline in car crashes. Adaptive headlamps, which change their direction depending on the angle of the steering wheel, reduced property damage claims by up to 10 percent. Autonomous braking systems also reduced auto accidents by around 10 percent.

Conversely, lane departure warning systems, which alert drivers if they wander outside their travel lane, appeared to slightly increase car accident events. While not statistically significant, the increase indicates that these systems "aren't reducing overall crashes" as intended, according to the IIHS.

This result was unexpected, as IIHS research originally projected a decline of more than 7,000 fatal accidents annually with this electronic feature alone. As usual, there are limits to the accuracy of theoretical assumptions and predictions. Some cars tested better than others, including one that also came with an auto-braking and fatigue-warning system, which may explain why there were fewer property damage claims for this model.

The IIHS hopes that these systems will save lives in the future. Unfortunately, lane departure warning features, to date, have not prevented insurance claims. These high-tech systems might yet, though, make our roadways safer and prevent some fatal car crashes.

Source: AUTOPIA "Study shows electronic driver aids mostly help, occasionally hurt," Damon Lavrinc, July 3, 2012

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