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New Research Highlights Front Crash Prevention Gaps

Driver holding a steering wheel of car with front crash prevention technology displayed.

Front crash prevention systems are not foolproof.

Recent research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has revealed key insights into the performance of front crash prevention systems. These systems play a crucial role in reducing car accidents, particularly rear-end collisions. However, IIHS studies have uncovered a notable disparity in their effectiveness across different vehicle types.

Front crash prevention systems typically consist of forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking (AEB). The forward collision warning alerts drivers of impending rear-end crashes, while AEB activates the brakes automatically if the driver doesn't react promptly. Modern vehicles increasingly incorporate these features to enhance road safety.

How effective are front crash prevention systems?

IIHS researchers analyzed over 160,000 crashes. They found that current systems are effective but vary in performance depending on the vehicle type. For example, these systems reduced rear-end crashes with medium or heavy trucks by 38%, motorcycles by 41%, and passenger vehicles by 53%. This inconsistency appears both in real-life scenarios and in tests using surrogate vehicle targets.

Jessica Cicchino, IIHS vice president of research, recognizes the collision reductions. However, she stresses that improvements could lead to even greater safety benefits, especially with large trucks and motorcycles. Enhanced systems could potentially prevent an additional 5,500 crashes annually with medium or heavy trucks and 500 with motorcycles.

Previous IIHS research indicates that 43 percent of fatal rear-end crashes involve a medium or heavy truck or a motorcycle being struck by a passenger vehicle. Cicchino points out the distinct risks posed by motorcycles and large trucks. These include:

  • Less visibility and the lack of a protective frame for motorcycles.
  • The massive size of large trucks, which leads to higher fatality risks and dangerous underride crashes.

Cicchino and David Kidd, IIHS Senior Research Scientist, assessed the effectiveness of current front crash prevention systems in real-world scenarios. They analyzed police-reported rear-end collision rates from 2017 to 2021 in 18 U.S. states. They also compared model year 2016-20 passenger vehicles equipped with AEB and forward collision warning against those without these features. Their findings reveal a disparity in effectiveness depending on the vehicle type.

Future plans for front crash prevention systems

A decade ago, when IIHS began evaluating these systems, few vehicles featured forward collision warning or AEB. Even fewer systems achieved an advanced or superior rating. Now, almost every new passenger vehicle is equipped with these features. Most vehicles with these features are earning a superior rating in vehicle-to-vehicle evaluations. However, in response to recent findings, IIHS has planned a new vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention evaluation. It focuses on preventing crashes with large trucks and motorcycles at higher speeds.

In preparation for this evaluation, Kidd collaborated with Transport Canada to examine how various systems respond to different vehicles and surrogate targets. Together, they tested five 2021-22 models from various manufacturers against a range of targets. They found that front crash prevention systems are generally less effective at detecting large vehicles and motorcycles than standard passenger car targets.

Kidd pointed out the difficulties in detecting motorcycles and large vehicles, as their size and dimensions can confuse the systems' algorithms. The necessity for front crash prevention testing programs to use a variety of targets representing different vehicle types is clear. This approach will ensure the effectiveness of these systems in real-world scenarios and offer comprehensive safety benefits across all vehicle categories.

Injured in a New Orleans car accident? Let our law firm fight for you

Any effort to enhance front crash prevention systems is commendable. However, drivers shouldn't solely rely on these systems, as they are prone to errors. Motorists still have an obligation to stay in control and attentive while driving. If another driver fails to uphold their duty of care and causes your injury, a New Orleans attorney at the Law Offices of John S. Williams, LLC can fight to hold them accountable.

Attorney John S. Williams and his dedicated legal team will meticulously gather evidence to build your case, deal with insurance companies, and negotiate for maximum compensation on your behalf. In addition, our law firm operates on a contingency fee basis, which means you owe nothing unless we win your case. Don't settle for less than you deserve. Contact us online or call our New Orleans law office for a free consultation. We will fight for what's right, what's fair, and what's just.

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