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New Car Safety Technologies That Work

If you’re in the market for a new car and you want to increase your safety on the road, a recent study from the Highway Loss Data Institute suggests the latest safety devices found in higher end sedans, such as the Mercedes-Benz CL, and SUVs like the Acura MDX, might be good choices. These cars and similar models include technologies that will help you avoid accidents.

One of these technologies is known as a forward collision avoidance system. With these systems, sensors in the car react to an object, such as another car, in front of the vehicle. The sensors can alert the driver and sometimes can even automatically put on the brakes to avoid impact. While we all know to be defensive drivers and to keep our eyes on the road, no driver is perfect and these systems are designed to act like an extra pair of eyes that can watch for potential safety threats. According to the study, cars featuring these types of systems had 14% fewer liability insurance claims than did similar models without such technologies.

On the down side, these vehicles are not cheap. According to Acura.com, a 2012 MDX with a collision mitigation braking system starts at over $52,000 while the Volvo XC60 with the optional technology package that includes collision warning, pedestrian detection, auto braking, and other crash avoidance additions starts at a more reasonable $36,000 according to Volvo’s website.

Another effective safety technology found on cars today according to the HLDI study is adaptive headlights. Unlike traditional headlights that shine their beams in a straight line ahead of the car, this lighting system can bend around the road so you can always see what is in front of you even around tight curves in the road. The headlights can do this because they respond to your steering as well as your speed and your car’s elevation on the road.  By adjusting to these conditions, the headlights are more effective at showing you what’s ahead in the road early enough so you can avoid an accident. In the study these adaptive headlights reduced injury claims by nearly one-third on Mazda vehicles and property damage insurance claims by one-tenth across all models that offer this safety option.

Adaptive headlights are already required equipment on new automobiles in Europe, but that’s not the case yet in the United States. However, several car manufacturers, including BMW, Volkswagen, Renault, Lexus, and Audi do offer them as an option on at least some of their models. Again, these safety options do add to the price of the Car. The option package for Mercedes-Benz C-class coupes that includes this feature costs an additional $6,450.

While these two types of auto safety technologies have proven effective in reducing accident claims, they may not be the only ones that work. Many of the newest technologies, such as blind spot detection and backup camera systems, simply are too new so not enough data is available to determine their effectiveness.

The bottom line is that these optional safety features do seem to work as intended but as a car buyer you have to decide if the extra protection is worth all the extra money.