Research Shows New Car Safety Features Can Help with Crash Reduction

(StatePoint) At a time when highway fatalities are on the rise, new research shows that the widespread adoption of the latest vehicle safety features could mean fewer crashes and safer roads. However, it could be awhile before we see the full benefits of these advancements.

“With drivers holding onto their vehicles for 10 years or more, it could take many years before the fleet fully turns over,” says Rini Sherony, senior principal engineer, Toyota Collaborative Safety Research Center.

But what if every vehicle on the road was fully equipped with crash-prevention features? And how do engineers identify which new vehicle safety features to prioritize next? To find out, Toyota Collaborative Safety Research Center and Virginia Tech teamed up to research the potential benefits that different safety systems have in various crash scenarios.

The team took real-world crashes and reconstructed the data, performing multiple crash simulations. They started modeling with more traditional “passive” safety features, like the latest vehicle structures, and extended their work to include such technologies as automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, blind-spot warning, etc. Assuming full deployment and optimal activation of safety features, such as those that were modeled, their research showed that over half of all U.S. crashes could be avoided and nearly 60% of moderate to serious injuries could be mitigated. At the same time, the research also identified what types of crashes are likely to still occur even if these safety features were deployed.

The research center has made the study’s data, found at toyota.com/CSRC, publicly available so that automakers, policymakers, technology research universities and tech companies can work together to continue to make safety gains and fill the crash prevention gap.

“While drivers can’t avoid every danger on the road, our research shows that safety systems have the potential to be very effective in reducing the risk and severity of crashes,” says Sherony. “It’s important to know that most automakers offer features like lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking, audio warnings and steering assist (often with additional functionality). When you search for your next car, consider these features, even possibly opting for those that do not come standard-equipped. We hope that as drivers continue to adopt and use such technologies, we will be able to realize more of the accident mitigation and prevention benefits that they can offer, resulting in safer roads for everybody.”

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