Study reveals which car crash avoidance technology can be a proven lifesaver

Consumer Reports News: April 29, 2013 03:08 PM

Many new cars boast technology to help drivers avoid a crash, and now a new study finds that one system is a standout in preventing fender benders and injuries on the road.

Forward-collision avoidance systems with autonomous braking are making a measurable difference in insurance claims, says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Such a system can slow down and even stop the car in the event of an imminent rear impact to avoid major damage.

IIHS looked specifically at Volvo's City Safety on the S60 and XC60. City Safety uses infrared technology to determine whether you are approaching a vehicle too quickly and it will apply the brakes accordingly to avoid or minimize a collision. It operates at speeds up to 19 mph.

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Analysts looked at claim data for 2011-2012 Volvo S60 sedans and 2009-2012 Volvo XC60 SUVs and compared the results to Volvo models without City Safety. They found drivers are less likely to be in a crash with City Safety, than without.

There was a 16-percent lower claim frequency for property damage liability in the S60 and 15-percent less in the XC60. For bodily injury liability, the S60 had 18-percent fewer claims and the XC60 had 33-percent fewer claims than vehicles without the technology. Claim frequency under collision coverage was 9 percent lower for the S60 and 20 percent lower for the XC60.

Originally the purview of luxury models, crash avoidance systems are now trickling down to mainstream vehicles. For the 2013 model year, 29 percent of vehicles have optional forward-collision warning and 12 percent of them have autonomous braking. Forward collision warning is standard on the Acura ZDX, BMW 760i, Honda Crosstour AWD, Hyundai Equus, and Toyota Land Cruiser. A forward-collision avoidance system is standard on the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, and City Safety is standard on the Volvo S60, S80, XC60, and XC70. Subaru has an optional system that is relatively affordable, called EyeSight, for the Legacy and Outback.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) lists which vehicles have forward-collision warning systems and other technologies on their website at

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Liza Barth

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