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The view above your left knee in the 2009 Infiniti FX.

In the last 24 hours, we've been accosted with more high-tech, in-car wizardry than we've ever asked for. And while you'll have to wait until next week to read our review of the new Infiniti FX, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has weighed in on the top five new safety technologies that may, or may not, have an effect on crash rates.

The IIHS studied how blind-spot detection systems, adaptive headlamps, lane-departure warning systems, forward-collision warning systems with automatic braking and emergency brake assist, work and how they may prevent collisions.

Of the 2.3 million frontal crashes that take place annually, 7,200 result in a fatality. The proliferation of systems that can detect an imminent frontal collision, sound a warning and if the drive doesn't react, preload all the safety systems and begin applying the brakes may prove useful. The same goes for lane departure warning systems, which notify the driver with a tone if they begin veering out of their lane. Others, like blind-spot detection systems won't have as much affect on road fatalities since they don't account for a substantial amount of fatal crashes, but they'll certainly make people more aware of their surroundings.

The IIHS also noted that adaptive headlamps, which turn in conjunction with the wheel to illuminate around a curve, might cause drivers to increase their speed, making a crash more probable. While we don't buy that last one, it highlights the point that's often left out of these studies: driver error is the number one cause of collisions. Fix that and all this added technology is superfluous.

[Source: IIHS via Detroit News]


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  • 24 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      Down with ABS or start making cars with more resilient rear bumpers because I'm getting pretty friggin tired of getting rear ended when it's snowing.
      • 7 Years Ago
      None of these systems are going to make a bad driver good.

      Some may save a bad driver from a serious mistake, but in a sense I believe they build a sense of false confidence as well. And eventually, the bad driver overcomes the electronic nannies and stuffs their car into a ditch.

      If only we would focus on teaching people to actually DRIVE a car....
      TOMCAT
      • 7 Years Ago
      I've taught Driver Education for 31 years and have worked on Automobiles most of my life. In that time I've seen many 'safety features' that have made driving safer and much more controlable.
      The best advice that I can add to these comments about 'safety features' is what I find to be the most 'common sense' of them all. READ THE OWNER'S MANUAL.
      Most new (or used) owners run off and drive their new vehicle w/o ever understanding how safety features such as ABS really work and what it will feel like like if that feature ever 'activates'. Most drivers do the 'wrong' thing which defeats the positive and accident avoiding merits the system has.
      I find that 'Navigation Systems' are far too confusing for most people to effectively use and statistics are begining to bear this out. 'Nav Systems' are quickly taking 'top-spot' above cell phones and any other distraction that causes accidents.
      I'd like to see 'Heads-Up-Display' and for night driving a version of 'Forward Looking Infrared Imaging'. I'm a 'Babyboomer' and there will be many of us who will continue driving in 'huges droves' as we get older.
      Features like HUD and FLIR will help alot. Active 'Cruise Control Radar' (on some cars) is already preventing accidents.
      Yes, I have a new car and went to my dealership well before my car arrived to go over ALL of the features (many mentioned in this blog) so that when the normal excitement of getting the new car arrived, I knew about its features such as VSC; I-Drive - the moment I took it home.
      "If at first you don't succeed, read the directions".
      • 7 Years Ago
      Back in the day when driver’s air bags started showing up in a few high-end luxury cars (and NHTSA was only hinting at making them mandatory), some wag (a Car and Driver columnist, IIRRC) suggested that more lives would be saved overall if, instead of the air bag, there was a shotgun shell aimed directly at the driver’s heart. Sure, a few innocents might get taken out, but think of how courteous drivers would be if they knew acting stoopid behind the wheel could be a shortcut to the hereafter.
        • 7 Years Ago
        And that satirical remark about shotguns may contain a grain of truth. I've come across through various math readings references to many statistical studies since the 1970's showing that safety features do not save any lives, because any benefits it bestows is quickly offset by the overconfidence it gives drivers. I've never read any of these so studies, but it does make you think about it.

        Certainly when I get into a car, I don't often think "I might hit someone today, or I might get into an accident and die." And since I don't have those thoughts, perhaps that's overconfidence on my part.



        • 7 Years Ago
        I like the shotgun idea, but a better thing would be to take anyone caught going 20 over the speed limit and shoot them on the side of the road. It would be barbaric, but it would also be effective.

        Of course I think it would reduce Autoblog readership by half.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I'd just cover my steering wheel with ballistic steel :-D!
      • 7 Years Ago
      I pay a monkey to drive me around...drives better then most do....
      • 7 Years Ago
      What the h*ll do most of those acronyms mean?! VDC = vehicle dynamics control (I think), but the rest of them? WTF? And I thought Porsche was bad.
        • 7 Years Ago
        @Chris,

        My thoughts exactly!! How is the average driver supposed to figure out all those acronyms? I think mission control for the space shuttle is less complicated than that.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Various placed poo-pood the LR2 when you had to dock the keyfob, but what do you wanna bet they will think docking the keyfob in the FX will be SO TEH COOL!
      • 7 Years Ago
      What we probably should do is teach our kids to drive well - with some serious car handling/ accident avoidance stuff...AND put accelerometers into car phones to prevent text-while-driving.

      I my day it was the other _ex while driving that was fun.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "While we don't buy that last one, it highlights the point that's often left out of these studies: driver error is the number one cause of collisions. Fix that and all this added technology is superfluous."

      Keep in mind though that manufacturers can't sell and make money off of better driving habits so here we are with fancy technology to make up for human stupidity....
      • 7 Years Ago
      What a stupid location to the put the ignition key at.

      There is nothing more satisfying that putting a traditional key into a traditional ignition on the steering column.

      Pushing a button on the dash or inserting a 'fob' in the dash does nothing for me.

        • 7 Years Ago
        I dunno...

        I find it extremely satisfying by pushing the blue "Start/Stop" button in my mom's G35.. :-p
        wmtellarcher
        • 7 Years Ago
        d3a: Apparantly you are not aware that the ignition key was originally inserted somewhere in the dash. It wasn't until about the 1960's that they started putting them in the steering column. Therefore, the dash is the "traditional" location for them.
        • 7 Years Ago
        to add to that the key needs to be inserted so that the battery can be recharged, but on a daily basis you'll leave the key in your pocket or purse
      • 7 Years Ago
      The blog entry has inaccuracies and is overall misleading.

      "The IIHS studied the effectiveness of blind-spot detection systems, adaptive headlamps, lane-departure warning systems, forward-collision warning systems with automatic braking and emergency brake assist, and found that despite the hype, some of them may not be as useful as automakers make them out to be."

      The IIHS has not studied the effectiveness any of the above systems. All the IIHS did was to count the number of accidents and fatalities each system might potentially affect. How many accidents and fatalities would actually be eliminated is a separate and unanswered question.

      "Of the 2.3 million frontal crashes that take place annually, 7,200 result in a fatality."

      False. Those are the accidents and fatalities the IIHS estimates that frontal collision warning with auto brake systems could potentially affect. The total number of frontal crashes and fatalities that occur each year are significantly higher.

      • 7 Years Ago
      "While we don't buy that last one, it highlights the point that's often left out of these studies: driver error is the number one cause of collisions. Fix that and all this added technology is superfluous."

      So, don't let the owners of the car drive it anymore.

      How are those automatic driving systems coming along? I do want to be able to get into a car and say "home" and then read a book for the entire within my lifetime.... and I want to do it without having to pay for a chauffeur.
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