Automakers are constantly working to make their vehicles safer than ever before, and while much of that effort is spent in areas the public will never see, recent years have welcomed a rash of more highly visible advancements. Those include autonomous-emergency braking (AEB) systems like Volvo City Safety and Mercedes-Benz Pre-Safe Braking, as well as lane departure warnings and adaptive headlights. While most of these systems still function largely as optional equipment on luxury vehicles, there's a growing push to see some of them go mainstream. The European Commission and Euro NCAP have indicated AEB technology will be a part of European crash evaluations beginning in 2014.
According to The Telegraph, studies suggest the move could save as many as 8,000 lives per year by reducing accidents by up to 27 percent while saving more than $6.12 billion. Given the push for ever more interchangeable global products, it seems unavoidable for U.S. crash evaluation bodies to follow suit. Russ Rader, a spokesperson with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, tells Autoblog his organization has already commenced research on that front.
"The IIHS is looking at a number of crash avoidance technologies to determine how effective they are in real world driving," Rader said.
IIHS has compiled significant insurance data for crashes involving vehicles both with and without ABE systems.
"Based on the evidence of the effectiveness of auto-brake systems, we expect them to be added to our evaluations in the future."
When is that, exactly? Rader isn't certain, though when it happens, the difference between having AEB and not will likely differentiate between which models go home with a Top Safety Pick designation and which do not.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was not immediately available for comment as to whether or not the government agency is considering a similar move for its crash worthiness evaluations.
IIHS has also seen evidence indicating adaptive headlight systems greatly reduce the risk of crashes as well, which means the lighting may also play a part in crash evaluations moving forward.
Despite the substantial human and trickle-down monetary benefits, additional lighting and AEB systems remain expensive and not widely available. The Telegraph found AEB to be available on just 22 percent of vehicles on sale in Europe right now.