Can Advanced Driver Assistance Systems Really Make a Difference?

March 23, 2017 by

In the future, humans may no longer operate their own vehicles. But until science fiction becomes a reality, we’ll continue to have fallible individuals operating cars at all speeds, in all conditions, and with no shortage of potential distractions. 

Fortunately, advanced driver assistance systems are one way to help mitigate traffic collisions and casualties in the face of this reality.

Why Advanced Driver Assistance Systems Are Important

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) estimates that 1,700 people die and 500,000 suffer injuries in rear-end accidents each year. Traffic collision avoidance systems reduce the number of these incidents, and the NTSB recommends that auto manufacturers make them a standard feature in every new vehicle.

Currently, only 27% of all new-model cars offer advanced driver assistance systems that automatically brake. However, manufacturers are rolling out automatic braking technology in newer versions of vehicles, and this technology will likely become standard on most cars by 2022 thanks to an agreement among automakers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

In a comment about traffic crash avoidance technology, Jake Fisher, who oversees auto testing for Consumer Reports, explains:

“If you are not alert, [you are] looking down, or something happens quickly, [an automatic braking system] is going to stop you from rear-ending somebody. This has the potential to stop a lot of accidents.”

Not only is automatic braking available for front-facing collision, but there are automatic braking systems for backing up as well. One example is Ford’s new cross-traffic braking system with next-generation driver assist, which also includes evasive steering.

How Effective Are Advanced Driver Assistance Systems?

In 2012, the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) studied the effectiveness of five different technology-based safety features. The list of features studied included forward collision avoidance, adaptive headlights, lane departure warnings, blind-spot detection, and park assist.

Overall, the forward collision-avoidance systems (particularly those with auto-braking) and adaptive headlights were found to be the most effective features in terms of preventing or reducing collision damage. Cars with forward collision-avoidance and automatic braking capability created a drop of 14% in property damage liability (PDL) claims, while adaptive headlights reduced PDL claims by as much as 10%.

On the other hand, lane departure warnings, blind-spot detection, and park assist seemed to have little to no effect on PDL claims, although experts said they weren’t sure why. They speculated that the lane departure systems gave too many false alarms, which led to drivers eventually tuning them out or turning them off. And although back-up cameras reduce blind-spot zones by about 90%, they may create a false sense of security among drivers, leading them to exercise less caution. The HLDI also stated that these blind-spot detection features may be more effective when combined with automatic rear-braking technology, as mentioned above.

Two Types of Automatic Braking Systems

Consumers should also understand the two different kinds of automatic braking systems. These systems fall into two broad categories: collision avoidance system and collision mitigation systems. Collision avoidance systems are designed to fully stop the car before it can hit an object, while collision mitigation symptoms attempt to reduce the damage from a crash rather than fully prevent a collision.

(If you’re wondering why someone would want to mitigate a crash instead of avoiding it altogether, the answer is that crash avoidance systems tend to be more complex and expensive from a technology standpoint. In general, car models aimed at more price-conscious consumers are more likely to have collision mitigation technology, while more expensive cars are more likely to use crash avoidance technology.)

Testing by AAA in August 2016 showed that crash avoidance systems could reduce the speed of a vehicle by nearly twice as much as the mitigation system under ideal conditions. Though not perfect, the avoidance systems prevented collisions 60% of the time in the AAA testing compared to the 33% of the time for mitigation systems.

When AAA tested these systems outside of manufacturer specifications in terms of speeds and conditions, the difference between the two types of systems became even more drastic. For example, when cars traveling at 45 miles per hour were confronted with a stationary object, the collision avoidance systems reduced the speed of the vehicle by 74%. The cars equipped with collision mitigation systems, on the other hand, only slowed the vehicle by a mere 9%.

Imagine that stationary object as another vehicle, a cyclist, or a pedestrian and it’s clear why knowing the difference between the two types of systems is crucial when you’re searching for the safest type of vehicle. While cars with crash avoidance systems may cost a bit more up-front, they could easily offset their price tag if they help you avoid a major collision.

The Advantages of Adaptive Headlights

Another driver assistance technology that shows a lot of promise is adaptive headlights, mainly due to their ability to help drivers see better in the dark. These lights turn in the direction the car is being steered, which more effectively illuminates the road around curves. They are also generally brighter and have a longer effective range.

It’s easy to see why these smarter headlights hold a lot of promise when it comes to reducing crashes. Being able to see that deer or tree limb sooner on a dark country road or catching a glimpse of another driver swerving out of their lane may allow you time to react, which could make the difference between a collision and a near-miss.

Advanced Technology: Still No Substitute for Attentive Driving

Ultimately, safe driving habits remain the best collision prevention technology we have available. Always stay aware of your surroundings, obey traffic laws, and eliminate distractions to stay safe on the road. If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, however, you may want to consider some of the safety features listed above as factors when you choose between different car models. While technology is no substitute for a safe driver, safe and attentive driving habits plus assistance from innovative technology may add up to the safest and smartest option of all.

Hossley Embry: Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys

We always wish you safe travels wherever the road takes you. But if the worst should happen and you find yourself in need of a personal injury attorney after a car accident, contact the experienced legal team at Hossley & Embry. We offer free consultations where you can speak with an attorney about the details of your case and learn about your legal options.

Call our offices at (866) 522-9265, or fill out our convenient contact form to speak with an attorney today. We have the resources available (including charter aircraft) to travel throughout Texas and the United States on short notice to investigate your potential claim.


Crash avoidance features reduce crashes, insurance claims study shows; autonomous braking and adaptive headlights yield biggest benefits. (2012, July 3). Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute. Retrieved from

LeBeau, P. (2015, August 26). New car crash avoidance systems earn high marks. CNBC. Retrieved from

Murtha, P. (2015, September 3). IIHS tests effectiveness of automated braking systems in new car models. J.D. Power. Retrieved from

Preventing driveway tragedies: Rear cameras help drivers see behind them. (March 13, 2014). Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute. Retrieved from

Stocksdale, J. (2016, August 24). AAA shows that not all auto-braking systems are created equal. Autoblog. Retrieved from

Categories: Driving Safety