While far from standard on new vehicles, technologies that warn motorists when switching lanes have the potential to save thousands of lives if widely adopted, two new studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety show.
Previous safety technology studies from IIHS have illustrated the value of rearview cameras and autobrakes. The most recent study convincingly shows how lane departure warnings and blind spot detection can significantly reduce crashes.
According to the studies, lane departure warning technology – which is standard on just 6 percent of 2017 model vehicles – lowered the accident rate 11 percent and the rates of injury by 21 percent in 2015. If you extrapolate that data and apply it to all passenger vehicles in the United States, nearly 85,000 crashes and 55,000 injuries would have been prevented. Fatal crashes could have been reduced by 86 percent, the study said.
Blind-spot detection, which alerts drivers on their side mirror when another vehicle enters the blind spot, reduced the likelihood of lane-change crashes by 14 percent and lane-change crash injuries by 23 percent.
The main issue, researchers say, is that lane departure warnings and blind spot detection are far from standard, and in most cases optional on even new vehicles. According to USA TODAY, those technologies were optional on 57 percent of new models.
"Most of these kinds of technologies started out being optional equipment on the highest trim level on the most luxury vehicles. It’s starting to filter down more but it still hasn’t filtered down all the way," said Jessica Cicchino, IIHS vice president for research.
The recent studies by IIHS seem to debunk a 2012 study that indicated that lane departure warning technology was causing more crashes. The 2012 study found that cars equipped with LDW had a 10 percent higher crash rate than cars without it. Critics of that study believed it was too small a sample, as the technology was still in its infancy.
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