Newer Car Features May Just Help Prevent Crashes


Two studies are showing that the safety systems that stop cars from moving into another lane or signal to drivers when they have a vehicle in their blind spot are starting to curb the crash rate, reports the Chicago Sun Times ( While this is good news, the research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) does raise serious questions: are drivers less vigilant when there are automated safety systems in place or more distracted by dashboard displays associated with these systems?

Both studies, which came from the IIHS, found that lane-keep assist and blind spot monitoring systems resulted in a lower crash rate when compared to vehicles without those systems.

For the lane-keep assist system study, the institute examined crash data from law enforcement agencies in 25 states for the period of 2009 through 2015. Researches found that vehicles with lane-keep assist systems had an 11 percent lower rate of head-on, single-vehicle and sideswipe accidents than vehicles without it. The system also appeared to help reduce injuries, as the injury rate fell by 21 percent across all of those accident types. The fatal crash rate fell by 86 percent, but since there were only 40 deadly crashes in the data, a simple analysis that did not account for differences in risk factors, such as age and gender, was used. This study also concluded that if all the passenger vehicles had the lane-keep assist feature in 2015, around 85,000 police-reported accidents could have been prevented.

The second study on blind spot detection features found that those systems lowered the rate of lane change accidents by 14 percent, and the injuries associated with those kinds of crashes fell by 23 percent. If the included passenger vehicles had all been equipped with this feature, the study estimated that around 50,000 accidents per year could have been avoided.

Greg Brannon of the Automobile Association of America noted that these study results were definitely encouraging. However, Brannon also warned that drivers must understand both the limits and capabilities of such systems before they get behind the wheel.

The fear that newer safety features could make drivers less cautious does appear to have some merit. A study out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab and IIHS found that when drivers use automated parking spot scanning systems to find a place to park, they spend more time looking at their dashboard display than their surroundings. This remained true even when the systems were looking for a spot and the driver was still in control of the steering. Drivers who have blind spot detection systems also told IIHS researchers that they don’t look over their shoulder as much when changing lanes because of their reliance on the feature.

Of course, some drivers don’t like to use newer safety features, even when their vehicle is equipped with one. Another recent IIHS study discovered that drivers turn off lane keep assist systems about half of the time, as the buzzing and beeping warning was irritating to them.

The new technology of today’s cars does have the potential to reduce accidents provided drivers use it wisely. If you have been injured in an auto accident, speak to an attorney today such as the car accident lawyer Denver CO locals trust.

Richard Banta LawThanks to our authors at Banta Law for their insight into Personal Injury.