New Study Finds that Collision Avoidance Technologies Could Reduce Accidents

A recent study conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute found that collision avoidance systems installed on 2013-2017 BMW models showed claim rate reductions in collisions, property damage, and injuries. This shows that this technology has the potential to reduce auto collision and injury rates.

As we are seeing with the coronavirus, fewer accidents don’t only save precious lives. There is less of a toll on our hospitals and, yes, our insurance companies that that can help reduce health care and insurance costs.  So anything that comes along that can move us to a safer future is a very good thing for all of us.

What are collision avoidance systems?

collision avoidance systemsCollision-avoidance systems are car safety systems designed to avoid collisions. Examples of collision-avoidance systems include:

  • Forward collision warning (FCW): While the car moves in a forward motion, the FCW detects potential collisions and immediately alerts you. Some FCW systems also detect pedestrians and other objects.
  • Automatic emergency braking (AEB): AEB also detects potential collisions in a forward-motion and applies brakes automatically to prevent or soften the impact’s severity. Some AEB systems also detect pedestrians and other objects.
  • High-speed automatic emergency braking (HAEB): HAEB involves automatic braking applied to a vehicle to prevent or lessen the impact’s severity while the vehicle travels at highway speeds.
  • Active cruise control (ACC): ACC regulates the vehicle’s acceleration and braking to maintain distance between it and the vehicle in front of it.
  • Front-cross traffic system (FCTS): Front cross-traffic systems use sensors to detect vehicles in front of it.
  • Pedestrian detection (PD): PD detects nearby pedestrians and issues a warning sound and implements automatic braking if the vehicle gets too close.
  • Lane departure warning (LDW): LDW tracks the vehicle’s position within its driving lane and warns the driver as their vehicle approaches lane markers.
  • Lane-keeping assistance (LKA): LKA helps maintain steady steering within the vehicle’s driving lane.

HLDI December 2019 study on BMW’s collision avoidance features

 The study, conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), examined the collision avoidance features found in 2013-2017 BMW models and how these features affect insurance losses. The study found that examined four distinct BMW crash avoidance systems, consisting of:

  • Forward Alerts package: This combines forward collision warning and lane departure warning.
  • Forward Alerts/Automatic Braking package: This combines automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning.  The latter is critical for sleepy drivers (often truck drivers)
  • Driving Assistance package: This combines the Forward Alerts/Automatic Braking package with active cruise control.
  • Driving Assistance Plus package: This combines the Driving Assistance Package with front cross-traffic system and lane-keeping assistance.

Three out of the four packages were associated with claim rate reductions. The Forward Alerts/Automatic Braking package reduced collision claim rates by 5 percent, property damage by 11 percent, and bodily injury by 16 percent. The Driving Assistance package reduced collision claim rates by 6 percent, property damage by 27 percent, and bodily injury by 37 percent. The Driving Assistance Plus package reduced collision claim rates by 7 percent, property damage by 26 percent, and bodily injuries by 7 percent.

The Forward Alerts package, however, was associated with a 2 percent increase in collision claim rates, a 5 percent increase in collision claim rates, and an 11 percent increase in bodily injury claim rates. HLDI reported that these results were not statistically significant and differed from their studies of other manufacturer’s systems.

This is not a small study. HDLI used a sample size of an estimated 6 million insured vehicle years. They included vehicles of varying packages. This included 550,000 insured vehicles that combined FCW and AEB, 120,000 vehicles with Driving Assistance Plus, and 30,000 with Driving Assistance and FCW sans AEB.

HDLI’s June 2019 crash avoidance technology study

 HDLI’s June 2019 study with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) compared the collision rates of vehicles with and without collision avoidance technologies. Their data consisted of police-reported collisions and insurance claims. Their results showed that:

  • Regarding FCW, they found a 27 reduction in front-to-rear collisions, a 20 percent reduction in front-to-rear collisions involving injuries, a 9 percent reduction in claim rates for property damages to other vehicles, and a 16 percent reduction in claim rates involving injuries to individuals in other vehicles.
  • When FCW and autobrake are combined, HDLI found a 50 percent decrease in front-to-rear collisions, a 56 percent decrease in front-to-rear collisions involving injuries, a 13 percent reduction in claim rates for property damage to other vehicles, and a 23 percent reduction in claim rates for injuries to individuals in other vehicles.
  • LDW was associated with an 11 percent decrease in single-vehicle, sideswipe, and head-on collisions and a 21 decrease in injuries involving those three collisions.
  • Blindspot detection associated with a 14 percent decrease in lane-change collisions, a 23 percent decrease in injuries involving lane-change collisions.
  • Rear automatic braking was associated with a 78 percent reduction in back-up collisions, a 12 percent reduction in insured vehicle damage claim rates, and a 30 percent reduction in non-insured vehicle damage claim rates.
  • Rearview cameras were associated with a 17 percent reduction in back-up collisions
  • Rear cross-traffic alert was associated with a 22 percent reduction in back-up collisions.

There is no question there is a cost to all of this.  The study also found that these vehicles might be more expensive to repair because sensors and other parts are located on the exterior of the vehicle. They found that the average payment per claim for damages to vehicles containing FCW without auto brake increases by $104. The technology is beneficial, but it is not cheap. Could the government find creative ways to encourage automakers to provide these options for a cheaper price?  Of course it could.