Noted Safety Feature Under Fire – Car Pro News

Lane departure warning systems could be dangerous.
The high-tech, high-price systems are supposed to help inattentive drivers stay in their own lanes, not stray disastrously into nearby cars, but vehicles with the systems showed increased, not decreased, crashes in a study being released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a research group for insurers.
The unexpected finding that lane-departure setups increased crashes as much as 10% is inexplicable, IIHS says.
David Zuby, chief research officer at IIHS, speculates that users might find the warning sounds or vibration alerts used by lane departure systems annoying and shut them off. The alarms are too frequent as drivers stray slightly side to side in normal diving, and so are ignored.
That, of course, explains why they might do no good, but not necessarily why they’d do harm, he acknowledges.
The result also could be a statistical quirk, because few cars in the study had the safety feature.
Buick was spotlighted as an example of how the system might be boosting crashes, but says it only offered such a system in the 2008 through 2011 Lucerne, and only a few people bought the optional system.
Mercedes-Benz, likewise, was cited. Mercedes spokeswoman Donna Boland says, “Given the small sample size, the increase is not statistically significant. We are confident as to the safety benefits of lane departure systems and would assume that further studies with a broader vehicle population would bear that out.”
If all vehicles had lane-departure systems and all drivers used them correctly, as many as 7,529 otherwise fatal crashes a year could be avoided, IIHS predicts.
The finding was the startling standout in a study by IIHS of insurance claims data to see how well new, costly, high-tech crash avoidance systems, such as LDW, are working in real life:
Best: Systems that alert you if you’re about to slam into a car ahead, and brake the car if you don’t.
Unlike safety belts and air bags, which are designed to reduce injuries when cars crash, the latest gadgets are meant to prevent the crashes in the first place. They use radar, sensors, cameras, computer controls and other gear to avoid collisions, or minimize them if they are inevitable.
Pioneered on luxury vehicles, they can add thousands of dollars to the price of a car. Even so, they’ve begun to migrate into mainstream models and can result in insurance discounts.
While generally upbeat, IIHS delivered a mixed report card. Here’s how the hardware graded.
Included in the IIHS evaluation, in addition to the lane departure warnings:
Swiveling “adaptive” headlights. A luxury-car feature for years, they turn slightly as the driver turns the steering wheel. They help see around the bend and avoid the likes of stopped cars, deer in the road, pedestrians and other things you want to avoid but couldn’t see in time with straight-ahead headlights. Pretty effective, IIHS says, reducing most types of accident-related claims.
Park assist and blind-spot warnings. They quickly moved from high-end to mainstream and now most mid-level and above cars offer backup cameras or beep-warnings, as well as lights that warn when a car in the next lane might be in your blind spot. While common and, common sense would say, quite handy, such aids “aren’t showing clear effects on crash patterns yet,” IIHS says.
Front collision avoidance systems, with and without automatic braking.
Those get the best review from the insurance industry research group, especially versions that not only sense an imminent collision with the car ahead, but also start braking your car to soften the impact.
Those systems can reduce damage and injury if a driver falls asleep, has a heart attack or is distracted and rams the car ahead.
Insurance claims to pay for damage to the car in front are 10% to 14% fewer when the car in back has that kind of crash avoidance system, IIHS data show.
Damage claims for the cars that have the systems drop, but not as much, because those claims include types of single-car accidents that the collision systems aren’t designed to avoid, IIHS says.
Zuby says that the forward collision avoidance system with automatic braking is the new-tech safety system he’d choose if he could pick just one.
The IIHS study included 2000 to 2011 models with the modern safety hardware from Acura, Buick, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo. Zuby says studies continue on other brands and models, but enough data had been gathered to justify a report on some of the vehicles.


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Copyright ©2018 Car Pro. All rights reserved.                                                      Team Access          Privacy          Terms of Service          Technical Support

Log in with your credentials


Forgot your details?

Create Account