Today’s automobiles are, in theory, safer than ever before. Safety is a major concern for people buying cars, and automotive safety testing is becoming increasingly accurate.
Auto manufacturers are including record numbers of safety features on new vehicles. Many of these features use innovative, “smart” technology. Do these features really make cars safer?
What are the two classes of safety features?
There are two broad classes of automotive safety features. The purpose of the first class is to prevent or reduce the severity of injuries sustained in car crashes. This class includes features such as seat belts and airbags. The purpose of the second class is to prevent accidents from happening in the first place. This class includes innovative new safety features such as
• blind-spot detection
• lane-departure warnings
• adaptive cruise control
• collision warning systems
• rear parking assistance
• automatic emergency braking
Automakers refer to this second class of safety features as “advanced driver assistance systems.”
Do they make cars safer?
Most studies indicate that this new class of safety features does reduce accidents. While ADAS do not prevent some of the deadliest crashes, such as high-speed or head-on collisions, they appear to significantly reduce “everyday” accidents such as backup crashes and lane-change collisions. ADAS seem to be particularly helpful for young drivers.
Do safer cars mean lower insurance rates?
It stands to reason that lower accident risks lead to lower auto insurance rates; however, there is another factor in play. While ADAS do reduce accident risk, they are also expensive to repair. As a result, insurance premiums stay about the same.
New safety features like ADAS are proving to be effective at reducing accidents overall. However, these features are no substitute for careful and attentive driving.