Automakers continue to battle over who can deploy the best automated driving technology. However, the advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) that we already have work very well. According to a study conducted by the Partnership for Analytics Research in Traffic Systems, the technology currently in use today is incredibly effective at preventing crashes, reducing damage from unavoidable collisions and saving lives.
ADAS packages help prevent crashes or mitigate the damage they cause. Systems like Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), which signals the car to brake on its own if it determines it’s going to crash otherwise, have proven to be very effective. According to the PARTS study, when combined with Forward Collision Warning (FCW), AEB systems reduce front-to-rear collisions by nearly 50%. It’s not just about avoiding accidents either. Cars with AEB were also able to slow down dramatically, even when a crash was unavoidable, reducing serious injuries by 53%. More importantly, these systems have been proven to perform extremely well in bad weather or low visibility conditions, which cannot be said for the prototype autonomous equipment we have seen so far.
Other systems, such as lane departure warning and lane-keep assist, reduced single-vehicle departure crashes by 8% and injuries from these crashes by 7%.
The PARTS study of ADAS and how these systems can save lives is the largest joint study of safety systems between government and automakers to date. It was achieved by working with a short list of car manufacturers who provided PARTS with vehicle fitment data for 47 million cars from 2015 to 2020. PARTS then cross-checked this data with 12 million crashes recorded by the police in 13 states, provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. At the time of the study, the automakers involved were General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Stellantis and Subaru. These brands hold a combined total of 65% of the automotive market. Now that Ford has joined the partnership, that market share increases to around 80%.
As more automakers incorporate these systems as standard equipment, the safer our roads will be. Mazda, for example, now has FCW and AEB fitted across its vehicle lineup.
While fully autonomous driving could one day make the roads safer, that is certainly not the case today. Even the best automated driving aids available today, such as GM’s Super Cruise, Ford’s BlueCruise and Tesla’s Autopilot, require constant driver attention while in operation. Plus, none of them even come close to true self-driving.
However, the aforementioned advanced driver assistance features, which act more like helpful backups for the driver, have been proven to consistently save lives by preventing crashes or significantly reducing their damage.
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