CLEVELAND - There are a number of new technologies in vehicles that promise to keep drivers and their passengers safe and now it appears some of them are delivering on that promise.
According to a study released Tuesday by the Highway Loss Data Institute, a non-profit research group supported by the insurance industry, forward collision avoidance systems in vehicles are effective.
These systems alert drivers when they are gaining on objects in their path and may crash. Some of the systems also feature automatic braking if the driver fails to take action.
Car models available with the feature include the Mercedes-Benz CL Class sedan, the Volvo XC60 and the Acura MDX SUVs.
The study analyzed insurance claim data. It found that property damage liability claims were 14 percent lower for models from Acura and Mercedes-Benz featuring forward collision avoidance systems, including automatic braking, than in models without them. Property damage liability claims include damage to other vehicles caused by the insured vehicle.
The study found the Volvo autonomous braking system reduced crashes by 10 percent, although that was not deemed statistically significant.
Injury claims also dipped slightly for most vehicles with forward collision avoidance systems, though again, not by a statistically significant amount in most cases.
Another feature, adaptive headlights, which shift direction as the driver steers, were also shown to reduce property damage claims by as much as 10 percent. The data on injury claims varied, but they fell significantly in most cases, including by close to 30 percent among Mazda models.
The study also found blind-spot-detection and parking assist systems have yet to show any clear effect on crash rates.
Lane departure warnings, which alert drivers when they appear to be drifting on the road, is another popular safety feature but the study found those actually appeared to increase insurance claim rates, though not by a lot.
HLDI said it would need to study the issue further to explain the findings.
Other high tech crash avoidance features like blind spot detection, park assist and backup cameras are still being studied and no information was available on their effect on keeping drivers safe.
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