Do Backup Cameras and Blind Spot Detectors Improve Safety?

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Blind spot detectors and backup cameras showed mixed results in improving safety in a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The data on these technologies is just starting to come in, and the IIHS says more study is required, but here are some preliminary results:

Volvo XC60 backup camera
Volvo XC60 backup camera

Rear cameras—Drivers of Mazda and Mercedes vehicles with backup cameras actually had more crashes, according to the number of insurance crash claims filed, than non-equipped cars.  But, the cameras successfully reduced property damage liability claims (where the drivers hits someone and must pay damages), the study found.

Parking assist—Drivers of Buicks had a 5 percent reduction in crash claims and a 17 percent reduction in property damage liability.  But there was no improvement for drivers of Mercedes vehicles with parking assist.

Blind spot detectors—More mixed results.  Blind spot detectors lowered property liability claims by 16 percent in the Acura and 7.5 percent in Mazda.  But the claims actually increased for Buick drivers and were flat for Mercedes and Volvo drivers.  And crash frequency reports were 5 percent lower in an Acura but 4 percent higher in a Buick.

A spokesman said, “Basically we need more data to figure better what’s going on.”

Lane departure warning systems actually showed poorer results than cars without them. Buick and Mercedes owners  with these systems  filed more insurance claims than those without them.

IIHS had previously believed that if all vehicles had lane departure warning, the technology could prevent or mitigate over 7,000 crashes, mainly from cars leaving the roadway.  But drifting off the roadway is not common, so the benefits may not have shown up yet in the data.

“Lane departure warning may end up saving lives down the road, but so far these particular versions aren’t preventing insurance claims,” Moore says. “It may be that drivers are getting too many false alarms, which could make them tune out the warnings or turn them off completely.”

Two other safety system showed positive results: advanced crash avoidance systems and adaptive headlights.

Forward collision warning systems that alert the driver if he is approaching the car ahead too fast showed 14 percent fewer insurance claims for Acura and Mercedes owners.  These cars also had an auto-braking feature that brakes for the driver if he doesn’t respond to a warning.

Headlights that shift direction when the driver steers were also effective in preventing crashes. . People who owned Mazda and Volvo models with this feature filed 10 percent fewer claims per year than drivers whose cars did not have the feature, the study found.

Source:  IIHS via ABC News


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