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Front crash-prevention systems: How effective are they in preventing rear-end accidents?

Only a couple of weeks ago, Google's much-ballyhooed driverless car got in its first accident. The car side-swiped a bus on a California road while trying to merge.

Google remains very optimistic, however, about the prospects of self-driving cars for improving safety and reducing traffic fatalities. There will be much more to come on this story, but there are also other stories worth following.

In this post, we will focus on a safety improvement that has not been as high-profile as autonomous autos but has shown an encouraging ability to cut down on accidents. This safety improvement is the use of front crash-prevention systems.

IIHS study

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently released data from a study of front crash-prevention systems in the U.S. Such systems are pretty new and the study was the first of its kind. The data for the study came from crashes reported to police in 22 states from 2010 to 2014.

The study found that vehicles equipped with an automatic braking system were involved in 40 percent fewer rear-end crashes than vehicles without such systems. Having an automatic braking system also reduces the percentage of accidents that result in injuries.

Another new system that can improve road safety is a system to automatically warn of forward collisions. The IIHS study found that this type of collision warning - even without automatic braking -- cut down on collisions by 23 percent.

The chief research officer for IIHS was encouraged by the findings. As autobraking technology becomes more widely used, it should reduce the number of rear-end accidents - and the whiplash injuries often associated with them.

Making autobraking more available

What are the prospects for making autobraking systems more widely used?

At present, autobraking systems are only available on certain vehicle models and they are known by different names. And even on those models, the systems are optional, not standard equipment

Safety advocates are trying to change that. A few months ago, the IIHS and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) entered into an agreement with automobile manufacturers toward that end.

If you were injured in an accident

For now, science fiction fantasies of a safe future secured by better technology are still a long way away from becoming reality. If you were injured in a crash caused by someone's negligence, it makes sense to discuss your situation with a skilled personal injury lawyer.

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