IIHS Study: The Most Effective Automotive Technologies
Automakers are continuously engineering innovative technology designed to protect us from mishaps behind the wheel. Some of the more recent advancements, such as anti-lock brakes and stability control, have proven so effective that the government has mandated them. Others, such as HID headlights and head-up display systems, have proven helpful to driver — yet there are no studies to validate their effectiveness.
The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, is a nonprofit research organization funded by the auto insurance companies. In addition to publishing its IIHS Top Safety Picks winners, the organization recently concluded a study about the real-world effectiveness of three advanced crash avoidance technologies: forward collision avoidance systems, adaptive headlights, and lane departure warning systems. Their findings were rather interesting.
FORWARD COLLISION AVOIDANCE SYSTEMS
Forward collision warning systems are designed to alert the driver if the vehicle is gaining on the traffic ahead of it so quickly that it is about to crash. A basic system alerts the driver with a tone or warning, while a more advance system will actually apply the brakes (automakers call it “autonomous braking”) in an attempt to stop the vehicle without driver interaction. The HLDI found that while both systems seem to reduce forward collision claims, those with autonomous braking do a much better job. Bottom line: Forward collision warning systems with autonomous braking are effective and beneficial.
Adaptive headlights, a system often included with HID headlights on high-end automobiles, are engineered to respond to steering input and swivel in the direction of the vehicle’s travel, thereby illuminating the path ahead of the vehicle. The HLDI found that vehicles equipped with adaptive headlights had nearly 10 percent fewer property damage claims when compared against vehicles with fixed systems. Furthermore, the study found that the greatest decline was in injury claims (not property damage). Bottom line: Adaptive headlights are effective and beneficial.
LANE DEPARTURE WARNING SYSTEMS
Lane departure warning systems sound alarms or vibrate the steering wheel when the driver strays from the painted lane they are in. A basic system will simply alert the driver, while the more advanced systems will automatically apply the brakes on the opposite side of the vehicle, effectively “steering” the vehicle back into its proper lane. The HLDI found that lane departure warning systems do not seem to be very effective — drifting off the road is not a common type of accident. ”Lane departure warning may end up saving lives down the road, but so far these particular versions aren’t preventing insurance claims,” says the HLDI “It may be that drivers are getting too many false alarms, which could make them tune out the warnings or turn them off completely.” Bottom line: Lane departure warning systems are not effective and do not appear to be beneficial.
SPEEDY DADDY SAYS…
Speedy Daddy agrees completely with the HLDI’s findings — we are big supporters of collision avoidance systems and adaptive headlights, but have found lane departure warning systems annoying and bothersome. What are your thoughts and experiences with them?
– Michael Harley