New Study Finds Significant Reductions in Crashes with Automated Safety Features

Love them or hate them, the automated safety features that are showing up in new vehicles seem to be making a difference in safety, at least according to one new study conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) and GM. The research studied the safety system content of over 3.7 million GM vehicles across 20 different model year 2013 to 2017 vehicles. This safety content data was then matched to police report data from vehicles involved in crashes using 10 state crash databases to estimate safety system effectiveness.

The study concluded that there are some significant reductions in crashes when the safety features were in operation, including an 81 percent reduction in crashes with reverse automatic braking with rear-vision camera, rear park assist and rear cross traffic alert. There was a 37 percent reduction in crashes using rear camera mirror with lane change alerts and blind zone alerts. Automatic emergency braking reduced crashes by 46 percent, and camera-based forward collision alerts reduced the chance of a crash by 21 percent.

“The wide variety of GM safety systems evaluated in the current effort provide further widespread evidence of the substantial safety benefit opportunities afforded by these systems,” said the report’s authors.

The study seemed to suggest that the more safety systems the vehicle had, the better the chances of avoiding an accident. For the backup systems evaluated, for example, it appeared that a “stacked up” system effect meant that the more advanced backing features there were, the lower the chances of an accident.

“We can make substantial gains in safety through deployment of advanced driver assistance systems such as forward and rear emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert, and others,” Carol Flannagan, research associate professor at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, said in a statement. “In addition, we found that the more automated the system, the greater the benefits.”