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Front Crash Prevention Systems Show Gaps in Safety

Cars hit the brakes in a traffic jam to avoid a rear-end accident.

Front crash prevention systems are integral to modern vehicle safety and can help prevent car accidents. However, they're facing scrutiny for their effectiveness against large trucks and motorcycles. Two recent studies from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reveal that while these systems are proficient in preventing crashes with passenger cars, their performance is less effective with larger vehicles and motorcycles.

These systems typically include forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking (AEB). Forward collision warning alerts the driver of an imminent rear-end collision. AEB engages the brakes if the driver doesn't react in time.

IIHS examined over 160,000 crashes and found that current systems reduce rear-end crashes with medium or heavy trucks by 38% and motorcycles by 41%, compared to a 53% reduction with other passenger vehicles. This disparity is also evident in tests using surrogate vehicle targets, as highlighted in another study.

Challenges front crash prevention systems face with motorcycles and large trucks

Jessica Cicchino, IIHS vice president of research, acknowledges the impressive reductions across all vehicle types. However, she sees potential for improvement, particularly with large trucks and motorcycles. With enhanced systems, an estimated additional 5,500 crashes with trucks and 500 with motorcycles could be prevented annually.

An earlier IIHS study showed that in 43 percent of fatal rear-end collisions, the vehicle being struck is either a medium or heavy truck or a motorcycle. That's despite another passenger vehicle getting hit in 97 percent of all rear-end crashes.

Rear-end crashes involving a medium or heavy truck or motorcycle often result in fatalities. Motorcycles lack the protective steel frame cars have, and large trucks' mass and height increase the likelihood of fatal underride crashes. To assess the real-world effectiveness of front crash prevention systems, Cicchino and David Kidd, IIHS Senior Research Scientist, analyzed police-reported crash rates between 2017 and 2021 in 18 U.S. states. This study included both vehicles with and without front crash prevention systems.

Addressing the gap in safety with front crash prevention systems

IIHS is developing a new vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention evaluation. This new test aims to ensure that systems are equally effective in preventing crashes with large trucks and motorcycles. In preparation, Kidd collaborated with Transport Canada. They examined how front crash prevention systems in five 2021-22 models responded to various vehicles and surrogate targets at speeds of 31 mph, 37 mph, and 44 mph.

The study revealed that systems were less adept at detecting large vehicles and motorcycles compared to a standard passenger car target. While all five test vehicles achieved the highest rating in the original IIHS evaluation, they were less likely to alert drivers about potential collisions with large vehicles or motorcycles. Due to their smaller size, motorcycles are harder for the systems to identify, especially at higher speeds. Despite being easier to detect, large vehicles seem to confuse the system's algorithms.

During tests, the systems frequently alerted for collisions with a standard passenger car target but were less consistent with other vehicles, including a school bus, fire truck, tractor-trailer, and dry van trailer. The systems were least effective with motorcycle targets.

This research demonstrates the need for front crash prevention testing programs to use a diverse range of targets representing different vehicle types. This helps ensure optimal performance in real-world scenarios.

Know your rights after a car accident in Laredo, TX

While front crash prevention systems play an important role in road safety, drivers shouldn't solely rely on them. Over-reliance on this technology can reduce drivers' attentiveness and ability to react to sudden hazards. When one of these systems suddenly fails and results in a crash, drivers can be found liable.

If you or a loved one was injured in a crash caused by someone else's negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Attorney John R. Solis can help you build a claim and get the compensation you rightfully deserve. Contact us online or call our Laredo office for a free consultation to find out how.

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