2012 Car Technologies…Are They Worth It?

SC Product Liability Lawyer

Are new car technologies safer and more efficient?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in conjunction with the Highway Loss Data Institute collected and analyzed data to determine which new car technologies work and which may not being working as planned.

The IIHS analyzed three new technologies including:

  • Forward collision avoidance that alert drivers when they are gaining ground on the traffic ahead at a rate likely to result in a collision. Some forward collision avoidance systems brake on their own if the drivers do not respond in time.
  • Adaptive headlights that respond to different steering inputs;  adaptive headlights adjust based on the vehicle, direction of the steering wheel and other factors allowing drivers to see around curves at night.
  • Lane departure warnings that sense and detect when a vehicle is drifting from its lane;  lane departure warnings work by alerting the driver with audible signals and other indications, like the shaking of the steering wheel, when the vehicle begins to drift.

From data collected by the IIHS it was determined that forward collision avoidance systems and adaptive headlights were worth the money and lane departure warnings may cause more harm than good.

Forward Collision Avoidance systems

Matt Moore, Vice President of the Highway Loss Data Institute, states, “So far, forward collision technology is reducing claims, particularly for damage to other vehicles.” Carmakers that use forward collision avoidance systems include Acura, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo.  From the data collected, cars with this new technology were involved in 14 percent fewer damage claims as opposed to those without the technology. Insurance companies see this as win because they are paying out less in property damage liability. This also a win for consumers because it means fewer crashes with fewer injuries and fewer expenses associated with the crash. The HLDI recommends drivers look for forward collision avoidance systems with autonomous braking.

shutterstock_561392128Adaptive Headlights

In regards to adaptive headlights, Moore states, “Adaptive headlights are having an even bigger impact than we [HLDI] had anticipated.” Adaptive headlights assist drivers in seeing curves in the dark. Adaptive headlights have been used in cars made by Mazda, Volvo, Acura and Mercedes. The IIHS and HLDI found a five to ten percent decrease in claims losses in vehicles equipped with adaptive headlights. The reports from the IIHS noted, “This is a dramatic result, given that only about seven percent of police-reported crashes occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. and more involve more than one vehicle.”

Lane Departure Warnings

The IIHS found lane departure warnings to be the biggest disappointment. The IIHS and HLDI state that drivers found lane departure to be annoying or cause drivers to become scared and act erratically. Moore states, “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 seems to increase claim rates, but we need to gather more data to see if that’s truly happening.”

The hope was for the warnings to prevent or mitigate up to 7,529 fatal accidents in the U.S. The HLDI found that the lane departure warning systems in Buicks and Mercedes were associated with higher claim rates for collision and property damage liability coverage.  The IIHS also found that 43 percent of Volvo owners and 46 percent of Infiniti owners said they were receiving false or unnecessary lane departure alerts. Further, 25 percent of Volvo owners and 41 percent of Infiniti owners found the alerts to be annoying.

Have you been injured from a defective product? Call the SC product liability lawyer at the Strom Law Firm today for a free consultation. 803.252.4800.


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