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A Look at Emerging Vehicle Safety Features

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With 2020 right around the corner, a host of new vehicle features are about to hit the market. As time passes, vehicle designs are including more and more evolving technology. In 2017, 20 automakers pledged to voluntarily equip all new passenger vehicles by late 2022 with a low-speed automatic emergency braking system (AEB) that includes forward collision warning (FCW), technology proven to help mitigate front-to-rear crashes. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates the commitment will prevent 28,000 crashes by 2025. 

“A lot of manufacturers are beating the 2022 deadline,” says David Aylor, manager of active safety testing at IIHS.

In new cars, front-crash prevention systems are standard on Toyotas, Nissans, and Hondas. Cameras and radar are mounted behind the windshield, bumper and grille.

“A lot of crash-prevention systems have been effective in reducing police-reported crashes,” Aylor says. 

Not only have automakers pledged to add safety features to cars, but the IIHS has worked to rate crash-prevention systems, including the pedestrian crash prevention systems of 16 midsize cars. Furthermore, the agency is working on testing advanced AEB that can prevent crashes at higher speeds. 

For collision repairers, as the features become more prevalent, OEMs have not standardized repair procedures for the features. Ultimately, recalibrating a sensor on one OEM could require different steps than on another OEM.

Aylor has been a part of the team researching and testing advancements in car technology for over 5 years. Below, Aylor shares his predictions on what repairers can expect to see in cars in the next decade. 

Top Five Safety Features Expected in Cars

Rear Automatic Braking

When combined with a rear camera and parking sensors, the technology has shown a 78 percent reduction in parking crashes. This type of technology is important because low speed crashes are most common, Aylor says.

In newer and most older vehicles, rear parking sensors are already common. These sensors will warn if an obstacle is behind the car.

Front Crash Prevention

Systems like forward collision warning with autobrake have shown a 50 percent reduction in crashes (SEE Sidebar:. Inside IIHS Crash Test Facility)

IIHS uses an inflatable target so that the car’s radar can reflect off the material and surrounding materials to warn the driver and automatically apply emergency braking. Vehicles tested by IIHS are typically able to avoid collisions at speeds of 20-25 mph.; cars undergo tests with three different pedestrian scenarios. In one case, an adult walks out from the side of the road, in another a child darts out between parked cars and, in the third scenario, a pedestrian stands in front of a vehicle as if a person was walking in the middle of the road. 

“We see Subaru systems with EyeSight (driver assist) for example, and those cars are reducing crashes by about 35 percent,” Aylor says.

LED Headlights

“We’re really pushing the manufacturers to improve headlights,” Aylor says. “In many cases these types of headlights can be very expensive for the consumer to choose.”

LED headlights could cost an additional $2,000 to $5,000.

Even if a car is in a low-speed crash, headlights can be costly to repair. Moreover, half of fatalities occur on poorly lit roads. So, to test LED headlights, the team at IIHS tests vehicles on the test track at night, and headlights need to illuminate well down the road without glaring.

Top headlight performers, Aylor says, are ones that eliminate glare off approaching vehicles. 

Blind Spot Monitoring

In blind spot monitoring on cars, radar is mounted in the rear quarter panel. That feature warns drivers if an object is in the way by either making a beep or flashing a light.  

Blind spot monitoring has reportedly been successful in preventing police-reported lane change crashes. According to the IIHS, if every U.S. vehicle in 2015 were equipped with blind spot monitoring that performed like the study systems, it is estimated that about 50,000 crashes and almost 16,000 injuries could have been prevented.

Automatic Emergency Braking

AEB can be in vehicles alone but studies by IIHS show that, when combined with forward collision warning (FCW) technology, it can reduce crashes. 

FCW alone and low-speed AEB reduced rates of being rear struck in rear-end crashes by 13 percent and 12 percent, respectively. 

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