New studies from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) show that new technology is leading to a reduction in car accidents. But is this new tech also encouraging risky behaviors on the road?
The two technologies mentioned in the studies are lane departure warning and blind spot detection. Lane departure warning tech alerts a driver when a vehicle is about to leave its lane. The tech comes in many forms, from simple sound alerts to ones that react and steer away from danger. Blind spot detection provides drivers with sensors and cameras that can help the driver see things outside of their usual range of vision.
How Much Are These Technologies Reducing Car Accidents?
The study suggests that lane departure warning technology lowers rates of single-vehicle, sideswipe and head-on crashes by 11 percent. The tech reduces injury rates from the same types of crashes by 21 percent. Using these numbers, almost 85,000 police-reported crashes and more than 55,000 injuries could have been prevented in 2015, had all vehicles been equipped with lane departure warning.
A different study showed that, when vehicles were equipped with blind spot detection, lane-change crashes fell by 14 percent. Injuries resulting from lane-change crashes fell by 23 percent.
These numbers seem to fly in the face of the argument that these safety technologies are making people worse drivers. Even the president of the IIHS, Adrian Lund, expressed this concern in an early August interview. For every part of driving that gets easier, people pay less attention while driving, Lund suggested. And for drivers who are accustomed to features like lane departure warning and blind spot detection, there may be an increased danger of accidents if those drivers are driving an older car that lacks those features.
As these features and others like them become more popular, we can rest a little easier. Despite some concerns, these features seem to correlate with fewer car accidents.