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Crash Avoidance Technologies

Many new vehicles offer advanced crash avoidance features. The systems started out as options on a few luxury models and have steadily spread to more of the fleet. Advanced technologies assist the driver with warnings or automatic braking to help avoid or mitigate a crash. These include front crash prevention, lane departure warning, blind spot detection, adaptive headlights and park assist and backover prevention. Advances also are being made in intelligent transportation systems that allow vehicles to communicate with one another or with road infrastructure to help avoid crashes.

Front crash prevention is reducing crashes. Vehicles equipped with the technology are less likely to rear-end other vehicles, IIHS research has shown. HLDI has found that vehicles with front crash prevention have fewer claims under property damage liability coverage, which pays for damage to vehicles that an at-fault driver hits. Adaptive headlights also are reducing property damage liability claims. So far, HLDI's studies of other advanced crash avoidance systems haven't been conclusive.

Electronic stability control is an older — and proven — crash avoidance feature. Standard on 2012 and later models, ESC is an extension of antilock brake technology that helps drivers maintain control of their vehicles on curves and slippery roads. ESC lowers the risk of a fatal single-vehicle crash by about half and the risk of a fatal rollover by as much as 80 percent.

What are crash avoidance technologies?

The term "crash avoidance" can encompass a wide variety of vehicle features designed to help the driver operate the vehicle safely. Vehicles increasingly offer advanced technologies that assist the driver with warnings or automatic braking to avoid or mitigate a crash. These advanced technologies vary in their function and how they operate. In general, they monitor driver input and the environment around the vehicle and warn the driver when they detect the possibility of a collision. In some cases, they increase braking power or adjust steering response to make the driver’s input more effective. They also may automatically brake or steer the vehicle if the driver does not take action to avoid the collision.

How Effective are DRL’s?

Nearly all published reports indicate DRLs reduce multiple-vehicle daytime crashes. A 1985 Institute study determined that commercial fleet passenger vehicles modified to operate with DRLs were involved in 7 percent fewer daytime multiple-vehicle crashes than similar vehicles without DRLs. Multiple-vehicle daytime crashes account for about half of all police-reported crashes in the United States. A 2002 Institute study reported a 3 percent decline in multiple-vehicle daytime crash risk in nine U.S. states concurrent with the introduction of DRLs.

Federal researchers, using data collected nationwide from 1995 to 2001, concluded that there was a 5 percent decline in daytime, two-vehicle, opposite-direction crashes. However, a 2008 federal study concluded that DRLs reduce crash involvements of pickups, SUVs and vans but have no significant effect on crashes of passenger cars.

What is electronic stability control (ESC)?

ESC is a vehicle control system comprised of sensors and a microcomputer that continuously monitors how well a vehicle responds to a driver's steering input, selectively applies the vehicle brakes, and modulates engine power to keep the vehicle traveling along the path indicated by the steering wheel position. This technology helps prevent the sideways skidding and loss of control that can lead to rollovers. It can help drivers maintain control during emergency maneuvers when their vehicles otherwise might spin out, or reduce vehicle speed to prevent running off the outside of a curve. The systems have been marketed under various names, including dynamic stability control, vehicle stability control and dynamic stability and traction control, among others.

How effective is ESC in preventing crashes?

In Institute studies, ESC has been found to reduce fatal single-vehicle crash risk by 49 percent and fatal multiple-vehicle crash risk by 20 percent for cars and SUVs. Many single-vehicle crashes involve rolling over, and ESC effectiveness in preventing rollovers is even more dramatic. It reduces the risk of fatal single-vehicle rollovers by 75 percent for SUVs and by 72 percent for cars. 1 Federal studies also show large benefits. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates the installation of ESC reduces single-vehicle crashes of cars by 32 percent and single-vehicle crashes of SUVs by 57 percent. NHTSA estimates that ESC has the potential to prevent 72 percent of the car rollovers and 64 percent of the SUV rollovers that would otherwise occur in single-vehicle crashes. 2 

ESC also has great potential to prevent rollover crashes of large trucks. NHTSA estimates that ESC on large trucks could prevent 40 to 56 percent of rollovers and 14 percent of loss-of-control crashes






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