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Vehicle safety improves with technology

June 2, 2014

Eight vehicles were named top safety performers in a recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The research specifically tested cars equipped with collision warning and automatic braking systems, doling out “superior" ratings to vehicles that are able to alert the driver of a potential collision while applying the brakes automatically.

According to David Zuby, IIHS chief research officer and executive vice president, even when the auto braking system isn't strong enough to completely avoid the crash, the technology can significantly slow the car, lowering the chance of a bodily trauma.

Cars that have good test-crash results can lower insurance premiums.
"Reducing the speed reduces the amount of damage that occurs to both the striking and struck cars and reduces injuries to people in those cars,” Zuby told the Los Angeles Times.

The IIHS reported the 2014 Chevrolet Impala was the only non-luxury car to notch the highest safety rating in new tests of high-tech crash prevention systems.

Also earning superior ratings were the BMW 5 Series, BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Buick Regal, Cadillac CTS, Cadillac XTS and 2015 Hyundai Genesis.

The IIHS judged a vehicle as either basic, advanced or superior for front crash prevention, which depended on whether it offered automatic braking as part of the forward collision avoidance system. If a car did offer this system, then it was rated by how well it prevented crashes in tests at 12 and 25 mph.

The IIHS launched the crash avoidance systems testing in September. The Times reported the Institute has already seen automakers start to make modifications to their cars in order to upgrade the systems. NASDAQ reported that crash-test results conducted by the IIHS are used in consideration by car insurance companies, meaning a safer car can cut a consumer's annual insurance premium.

“BMW and Lexus, for example, have added more braking capability to their systems, which has paid off in higher ratings,” Zuby said. “We know that this technology is helping drivers avoid crashes.”

Not quite superior

A total of 13 models from 2014 earned “advanced" ratings by the institute. That means they warn drivers of a collision but their automatic brakes only moderately reduced the car's speed. Those vehicles include the BMW 3 Series, Buick LaCrosse, Lexus IS, Audi A3, Audi A6, BMW 3 Series, Dodge Durango, Lexus GS, Mercedes-Benz CLA, Infiniti QX50 and Infiniti QX70.