Safety Systems May Cut Crashes 27%, Report Says

By Danny King July 20, 2011

Volvo City Safety graphic.jpg

Collision-avoidance systems that use infrared sensors to automatically brake a vehicle on the verge of rear-ending another may cut low speed crashes by more than 25 percent, according to a Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) report, which studied the effects of Volvo's so-called City Safety feature. The Volvo XC60 with City Safety was subject to 27 percent fewer insurance claims related to at-fault accidents than other midsize luxury SUVs, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) said Tuesday, citing the HLDI report. To factor out driving habits of Volvo drivers, the study compared claims and found that the XC60 had 19 percent fewer claims than other Volvos.

The study tracked claims related to property-damage liability, bodily injury liability and collision. Other vehicles whose frequency of property-damage liability claims were significantly below average included the Mercedes-Benz M-Class Hybrid, Audi Q5 Quattro, BMW X3 and Lincoln MKT, according to the report. "These are very large effects" for the Volvo, said Adrian Lund, president of HLDI. "The pattern of results strongly indicates that City Safety is preventing low-speed crashes and reducing insurance costs."

Sound Investment
The study supports the investment many automakers are making in so-called forward collision warning systems. Some systems, such as Mercedes-Benz's Distronic Plus and Audi's Braking Guard with Pre Sense, automatically engage the vehicle's braking system if the driver gets too close to another, while others, such as Ford's, Chrysler's and Porsche's forward collision warning systems merely alert a driver that may be headed for a crash.

Collision-avoidance systems are among a number of features automakers, especially of higher-end vehicles, are including as standard equipment in an effort to reduce accidents and injury. Blind-spot detection systems, which do things like trigger an audible warning and take limited steering control when a driver is about to swerve into another car, will generate more than $12 billion in revenue and will be included in 20 million vehicles, or 25 percent of the world’s total, in 2016, ABI Research said in a report released in March. Those numbers are up from $570 million and about 1 percent this year.

Meanwhile, lane-departure warning systems, which began being added to some cars as early as 2005, will expand into a $14 billion market by 2016 and will be included in more than 22 million vehicles by then, ABI Research said in a separate report in February. Volvo began offering City Safety as a standard feature on the XC60s for the 2010 model year, and has since added it to the 2011 S60 sedan, 2012 S80 sedan and 2012 XC70 wagons. The systems involves an infrared laser sensor in the front windshield that, at speeds between 2 and 19 miles per hour, tracks how close the Volvo's getting to the car in front of it and triggers a braking mechanism at 18 feet.

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