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IIHS study reveals the value of crash avoidance technology

California residents are likely aware that many modern cars and SUVs are fitted with sophisticated accident avoidance technology. Features like lane departure warning systems and blind spot alerts use sensors and radar arrays to monitor road conditions and warn drivers of impending dangers, and a recent study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety suggests that more than 50,000 traffic accident injuries could be prevented each year if all vehicles were so equipped.

Researchers from the Virginia-based nonprofit group, which is funded by auto insurers, used accident data compiled in 2015 to gauge the effectiveness of lane departure and blind spot warning technology. More than 5,000 car accidents involving vehicles equipped with these systems were studied, and the researchers found that the technology reduced sideswipe accidents and front-end collisions by 11 percent. The researchers also noticed that injury rates were 21 percent lower when accident avoidance systems warned drivers of looming dangers but failed to prevent a crash.

However, only 6 percent of the vehicles currently offered for sale in the United States feature lane departure warning systems as standard equipment, and just 9 percent are fitted with blind spot warning technology. While these systems are offered as options on more than half of the vehicles in dealer showrooms, they are generally included in costly option packages or only available on higher trim levels.

Studies have also found that many drivers switch these systems off because they find the warning beeps they make annoying. When accidents involving vehicles equipped with accident avoidance systems have been involved in crashes, experienced personal injury attorneys ask vehicle inspectors to determine whether or not this technology was in use at the time. Evidence that safety technology was knowingly deactivated could then be used to establish a pattern of reckless behavior and a disregard for the safety of other road users in lawsuits filed on behalf of car accident victims.

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