Active safety features actually help

Active safety features such as automatic emergency braking are designed to mitigate or prevent car crashes. Yet, out of the labs and onto the roads, how do you measure what doesn’t happen? 

If insurance claims are a measure, then collision avoidance systems are not only working but also improving safety as the technology matures, according to a study released this week by the Highway Loss Data Institute, which is an affiliate of the IIHS.   

The study analyzed insurance claims from 2013-2017 BMW vehicles equipped with four different levels of collision avoidance technology. The study analyzed roughly 6 million insured vehicles, which is one of the largest samples to date for a study of its kind. 

“The crash claim frequency reductions for BMW’s Driving Assistance package are the largest we’ve seen from advanced driver assistance systems, which suggests crash avoidance may be delivering bigger benefits as the technology improves,” Matt Moore, senior vice president of HLDI, said in a statement.

It’s also the group’s most in-depth study of Level 2 driver-assist features, which are increasingly common in newer vehicles. 

Across the four different collision avoidance packages offered by BMW, the HLDI analyzed collision claims to repair the insured driver’s vehicle, property damage liability claims to repair the other cars in a crash that were not at fault, and bodily injury liability claims resulting from the crash. 

In some cases, bodily injury claims decreased 37% compared to BMW vehicles without the safety tech.

Cars equipped with forward alerts without automatic emergency braking had more claims than cars without the alerts, although the HLDI said those results were not “statistically significant.”

When automatic emergency braking, which is now standard in most new cars, was added to the forward alerts package, bodily injury claims dropped by 16%. That dropped by 37% on vehicles equipped with advanced AEB and adaptive cruise control included in a Driving Assistance package offered by BMW. Property damage claims experienced a proportional reduction, from 11% with AEB to 27% with the Driving Assistance package. 

A fourth package offered by BMW, Driving Assistance Plus,  added lane centering and front cross-traffic alert but didn’t make much of a statistical difference in the HLDI study. 

“The important thing here is that both of the advanced systems were associated with large reductions in claim frequency and reductions in overall losses,” Moore says.

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