December 15, 2020 Last updated December 15th, 2020 796 Reads share

Is New Car Technology Really Reducing Accidents?

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Car technology has made some major leaps in the last five years, and most of us are familiar by now with the claims that this technology is working to reduce car accidents. If you’ve found yourself wondering if these claims hold any merit or are just marketing methods, you’re not alone! With several years on the market to contribute to data, studies have begun to come out and reveal that yes, this new technology is indeed making our roads safer.

There have been a number of different safety features rolled out in recent years that contribute to a safer driving experience. The umbrella term for this technology is Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems or ADAS.

While these systems operate in a variety of ways, the primary function of ADAS is to partially assume responsibility for the aspects of driving that most often lead to accidents. They can operate by means of warning the driver or other cars of impending danger, automatically taking over certain actions, or broadening the driver’s ability to monitor road conditions.

The extent to which these systems are reducing accidents is hard to specifically quantify. After all, there’s no way to count the accidents that haven’t happened. That said, studies have been conducted using what information is available.

The Numbers Say New Features Work

In a study by J.D. Power, drivers were interviewed about if and how they felt ADAS in their new vehicles helped prevent collisions in the first 90 days of ownership. According to this study, over 50 percent of drivers felt the car’s features had helped prevent a crash at that time.

When asked more specifically about what features they felt were the most helpful, 49 percent said blind spot detection, 42 percent said backup cameras and parking sensors, and 35 percent said the forward collision alert/automatic braking features did the trick.

Other studies have relied on damage and repair data rather than driver self-reporting. LexisNexis Risk Solutions found a 27 percent reduction in bodily injury claim frequency and a 19 percent reduction in property damage claim frequency among cars equipped with ADAS.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that crash involvement for cars equipped with blind-spot detection was 14 percent lower. The same study claims that if every car were equipped with this technology, tens of thousands of accidents could be prevented annually.

What ADAS Are On the Market Currently?

While we tend to think of ADAS as a relatively recent development, they’ve existed in some form for around 50 years, starting with anti-lock brakes. Since then, the complexity and abilities of this technology are what’s changed, as well as the popularity of this tech among cars at different price points.

Backup cameras, for instance, have been on the market for several years now and are becoming a standard even in base models of new cars. Other features, like Vehicle to Vehicle communication (V2V) is newer and will require an increase in popularity to see an increase in efficacy. V2V can make a big difference in preventing crashes, but only if enough cars on the road are using it to make a functional communication network.

Features like lane assistance have had an unexpected advantage in training drivers to act more cautiously. In cars that automatically correct the vehicle to keep it straight, a turn signal has to be used to change lanes without the car taking over, leading to more drivers minding their signals.

Other ADAS include:

  • Pedestrian detection
  • Blind spot detection
  • Automatic braking
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Augmented reality dash displays
  • Partially automated driving

Exceptions to the Rule

While ADAS on the whole are making a big impact in accident reduction, much of the technology is still new. That does mean there’s some troubleshooting left to do.

Some drivers have reported, for instance, that the automatic braking systems have presented issues when trying f to merge on the highway – introducing danger in an effort to prevent the driver from being sideswiped.

Forward-thinking luxury brand Tesla has made fully automated driving one of its big goals, and has already released cars with some pretty impressive self-driving features. Flaws in this technology have ended tragically more than once, though, when the autopilot technology wasn’t able to detect a tall truck in the car’s path. While fully automated cars no longer just feel like the dreams of sci-fi writers, we’re still a ways off from perfecting the technology.

What Technology is Coming?

By the time a car makes it to the showroom floor of your local dealership, it’s undergone an average of six years in development. That means the latest technology for sale isn’t the latest thing scientists have come up with, and there are some exciting things on the horizon.

Beyond continued efforts to fully automate the driving process, auto manufacturers are working to streamline how drivers communicate with their cars to prevent accidents. The increasing complexity of in-car computers has led developers to speculate that assistance features will be acting as full digital assistants in no time. We may just need to ask our car for the scenic route or to run its own diagnostic when we hear a funny noise.

Nissan has even been working to develop a sort of mind-link between drivers and their vehicles. The idea is that drivers would wear a headband that could read their brain waves and braking for them, reducing reaction time and thereby preventing collisions.

Whatever the future of car technology may hold, it’s sure to be exciting. Who knows, maybe someday we’ll reach the lofty goal set by GM and Volvo to completely eliminate car accidents. Until then, ADAS will make driving easier and safer for all of us.

Luxury car in motion -DepositPhotos

Katherine Bartlett

Katherine Bartlett

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