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Data reveals the benefits of crash avoidance technology

Many of the new vehicles available to consumers in Pennsylvania and around the country feature sophisticated electronic systems designed to anticipate and avoid collisions. Many safety advocates have called for these innovative safety features to be made mandatory, and research conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety will likely lead to these calls becoming louder. According to the IIHS, approximately 700,000 rear-end crashes reported to police and an untold number of injuries could have been prevented in 2013 if all vehicles had been so equipped.

These safety systems use an array of sensors and radar to monitor driving distances, and they either warn drivers when a collision seems imminent or apply the vehicle's brakes automatically to avoid a crash. The IIHS study found that systems that only provided an audible warning reduced rear-end collisions by 23 percent, but those that also applied the vehicle's brakes reduced this type of crash by 40 percent.

The benefits of this type of safety equipment was also highlighted by researchers in 2012 and 2015, and the IIHS announced in September 2015 that it had reached an agreement in principle with auto manufacturers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to make autobrake systems standard on all cars, light trucks and SUVs sold in the United States. The IIHS data was compiled by analyzing police accident reports.

This type of safety feature would rarely be called upon if drivers maintained safe distances and kept their eyes on the road ahead, but the proliferation of cellphones and GPS systems has led to a surge in driver distraction. The injuries suffered in car accidents caused by distracted driving accidents are often debilitating, and personal injury attorneys may initiate lawsuits on behalf of accident victims against negligent motorists or their insurance companies.

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