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New Study Reveals How Sensor Safety Systems Stack Up

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On: Mon, Jul 23, 2012 at 4:08PM | By: Chris Weiss

New Study Reveals How Sensor Safety Systems Stack Up

As the automotive industry slowly drifts toward a future in which human driving will be obsolete, sensor-based safety systems are reaching more and more drivers. These systems use advanced hardware, including radar, lasers and motion sensors, to monitor and react to the road around you. Because these systems are often sold as options, consumers have the right to know: do they work and are they worth the investment? A new study by the Highway Loss Data Institute provides some insight.

The Highway Loss Data Institute did an analysis of insurance claims to study the effects of safety systems on accident avoidance. The Institute finds that forward collision warning systems and adaptive headlights provided the most benefit. Its research finds that forward collision systems brought insurance claims down by as much as 14 percent. The organization notes a particular efficacy when the collision systems include automatic braking.

Adaptive headlights, which turn independently of the vehicle to help drivers see around curves, were also effective, according to the study. The research shows adaptive headlights brought claims down by as much as 10 percent.

Other systems didn't fare as well under HLDI's scrutiny. Blind spot detection and parking assist had little detected effect, and lane departure warning systems were actually linked to claim increases, though the HLDI says that the increases are not statistically significant. It notes that drifting off the road isn't a common element of crashes as a whole, so that could be the reason for the counterintuitive data, but it also suggests that there could be a problem with lane departure systems' reliance upon camera readings of road markings, which can be faded or painted over.

"Lane departure warning may end up saving lives down the road, but so far these particular versions aren't preventing insurance claims," HLDI vice president Matt Moore says. "It may be that drivers are getting too many false alarms, which could make them tune out the warnings or turn them off completely. Of course, that doesn't explain why the systems seem to increase claim rates, but we need to gather more data to see if that's truly happening."

HLDI looked at vehicles from a variety of manufacturers, including Acura, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo. For more information on its methodology, follow the link below.

An illustration of the Volvo V60's Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake system is pictured above.


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