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New Studies Highlight Limitations of Front Crash Prevention Systems

Person driving in a new high tech car.

Do crash-prevention devices actually prevent car accidents?

Front-end crash prevention systems can help prevent car accidents in many cases, but they’re not as foolproof as some people might think, according to several recent traffic safety studies conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

“These reductions are impressive for all vehicle types, but the safety benefits could be even larger if front crash prevention systems were as good at mitigating and preventing crashes with big trucks and motorcycles as they are with cars,” said Jessica Cicchino, IIHS vice president of research.

What is a front-crash prevention system?

Many newer vehicles are equipped with collision avoidance systems (CAS), which are designed to prevent a vehicle from being involved in an accident. Some of these accident prevention systems alert a driver to a possible collision. Other systems take a more active role and automatically attempt to prevent an accident without the driver’s involvement.

In the case of front-crash prevention systems, the two most common types are forward collision warning (FCW) systems and automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems.

Forward collision warning systems alert drivers if they are about to be involved in a rear-end accident.

AEB systems automatically apply a vehicle’s brakes if a driver fails to respond immediately to a forward collision warning.

When are front-crash prevention systems not effective?

Front-crash prevention systems are less effective at preventing accidents involving large trucks and motorcycles, according to one of the recent IIHS studies, which compared the effectiveness of such crash prevention systems on trucks, motorcycles, and passenger vehicles.

Based on accident data involving 160,000 rear-end accidents, front-crash prevention systems were effective in preventing the following accidents at the following rates:

  • 38 percent of rear-end accidents involving medium or heavy trucks were prevented by front-crash prevention systems.
  • 41 percent of rear-end collisions involving motorcycles were prevented by such systems.
  • 53 percent of rear-end car accidents were prevented by the same warning systems.

Why are front-crash prevention systems sometimes not effective?

Additional studies conducted by the IIHS confirmed that front-crash prevention systems are less effective for certain types of vehicles.

In one study, IIHS researchers compared National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) accident data and police reports for rear-end accidents in 18 states from 2017 to 2021. In the same study, researchers compared accident data for vehicles with or without AEB systems involved in rear-end accidents.

This study found “that front crash prevention systems aren’t as good at detecting other types of vehicles and surrogate targets as they are at detecting a standard passenger car target,” the IIHS reported, adding “that the (warning) systems were substantially less likely to sound an alert when a collision with certain large vehicles or with a motorcycle target was imminent than when the test vehicles were approaching the standard passenger car surrogate.”

“Motorcycles are smaller and narrower than cars, making them more difficult for camera- and radar-based systems to identify, especially at higher speeds,” IIHS Senior Research Scientist David Kidd said. “Extra-large vehicles are presumably easier to detect, but their dimensions appear to confuse the systems’ algorithms.”

Seeking legal help after a crash

Insurance claims involving rear-end accidents and other collisions often become complicated legal cases. That’s because the insurance company for the at-fault party has a financial incentive to pay you as little as possible, even if that means you don’t receive the compensation you’re entitled to under Ohio law.

Whatever the circumstances of your case, an experienced Cleveland car accident lawyer at Merriman Legal, LLC can help you understand all your available legal options. Attorney Tom Merriman and his talented legal team have years of experience handling complex legal cases. That’s why our law firm has such a well-earned reputation throughout Ohio.

To see how we can help you, contact us today and schedule a free case evaluation with a law firm that knows how to win for Cleveland’s injured. We’re located on West 9th Street in Cleveland and proudly handle injury claims throughout Ohio.

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