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Study finds new collision avoidance systems reduce crashes

Consumer Reports News: July 19, 2011 02:38 PM

Low-speed crashes happen every day. Forward collision avoidance systems are designed to prevent such rear-end collisions. A new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that these systems are working to prevent about a quarter of these frequent crashes.

IIHS looked specifically at the Volvo XC60 midsized SUV equipped with standard City Safety, Volvo’s forward collision warning system, and found that the system is helping to avoid the front-to-rear crashes that occur on our busy roads.

The Institute looked at property damage and bodily injury liability claims, and collision claims. (Property damage and personal injury liability claims are paid to other, innocent drivers who get hit by an insurance company’s customer. Collision claims cover damage to the insured customer’s own car.) The study found that property damage liability claims were filed 27 percent less often for the XC60 compared to other midsized luxury SUVs and 19 percent less than other Volvos. Bodily injury liability was reduced by about half compared with both other SUVs and other Volvos, and collision claims were 22 percent less than similar SUVs and 17 percent less than other Volvos.
City Safety works to automatically apply the brakes to avoid a rear-ending crash in low-speed driving. It uses a sensor in the windshield to watch the area in front of the vehicle at speeds of 19 mph and less. If it senses that a collision is likely, it will apply the brakes and stop the car if necessary, even with no driver intervention.
In our tests we found that City Safety worked when we tried it at our track in a Volvo S60. We’d like to see this feature available for more models.

City Safety has been standard on the XC60 since the 2010 model year and is standard on the 2011-2012 S60 sedan and 2012 S80 sedan and XC70 wagon.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) just started looking at these forward collision warning systems and other technologies this year and lists which 2011 models have it on their website at

Liza Barth

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