• Image Credit: Insurance Institute For Highway Safety
  • Image Credit: Insurance Institute For Highway Safety
  • Image Credit: Insurance Institute For Highway Safety
  • Image Credit: Insurance Institute For Highway Safety

Out of 24 vehicles tested, eight earned the highest rating of "Superior."

In the past, automotive engineers focused on creating safety systems that protected drivers in car crashes. In the future, advances like the Google self-driving car on display this week, will likely remove motorists and their steering wheels from the driving equation. In the present, things are a little murkier.

The era of the self-driving car inched closer to reality this week when Google unveiled its autonomous prototype, but the truth is, in more subtle ways, drivers have already ceded some control to automated systems. Many vehicles are already equipped with new technology that offers drivers active assistance behind the wheel. Features like adaptive cruise control, active lane assist and automatic braking are more common.

"With advancements happening quicker than ever in the automotive space, not only is safety about what happens when you hit something in your car, but avoiding that scenario entirely," said Akshay Anand, analyst at Kelley Blue Book. Sold under a variety of brand-specific names, these systems can at once be alluring, confusing or even repellent to consumers.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has developed a new method for assessing the effectiveness of safety systems that deliver automatic braking capability. On Thursday, the nonprofit organization released results from the testing of 24 luxury SUVs and sedans.

Four vehicles – the BMW 5 Series and X5, the Hyundai Genesis and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class – earned perfect scores when equipped with the crash-prevention features, which are often sold as optional add-ons. Overall, eight cars earned the highest rating of "Superior," 13 were given "Advanced" rating and three earned a "Basic" rating.



Cars earn a "Basic" ranking if they have an autobrake system that provides minimal speed reductions. Vehicles that combine a warning with more moderate speed reductions on tests at 12 and 25 miles per hour receive "Advanced" status and ones that provide "major" speed reductions earn "Superior" status, according to IIHS.

Such systems are becoming more popular. More than 20 percent of 2014-model-year vehicles offer autobrake capabilities, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute, twice as many as were available on 2013 models. Forward-collision warning systems – with or without autobrake capabilities – are offered as options on nearly 40 percent of all 2014 models.

More than 20 percent of 2014-model-year vehicles offer auto brake capabilities.

They're one important way that the industry is attempting to reduce accidents. Roughly 90 percent of car accidents are attributed to human error, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data. While many of the models are sold by luxury brands, many more mainstream brands are also starting to offer them on their products, including Buick, Chevrolet, Dodge and Toyota.

"We know that this technology is helping drivers avoid crashes," said David Zuby, the executive vice president and chief research officer at IIHS. "The advantage of autobrake is that even in cases where a crash can't be avoided entirely, the system will reduce speed. Reducing the speed reduces the amount of damage that occurs to both the striking and struck cars and reduces injuries to people in those cars."

Front-collision warning systems use sensors, cameras, radar and lasers to detect when a car is getting too close to another car. Many issue warnings to drivers and pre-charge brakes to maximize their effect if the driver responds, IIHS said. The more advanced systems apply the brakes if the driver doesn't respond.

In addition to the four cars with perfect scores, the Buick Regal, Cadillac CTS, XTS and Chevy Impala earned the highest rating of Superior when equipped with autobrake systems. All of the cars are also available with the warning system only, which earns a Basic rating.

Full results of the testing can be found on the IIHS website here.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 20 Comments
      knightrider_6
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why is X5 listed in both Advenced and Superior sections? Did they text two separate trim levels? http://www.iihs.org/iihs/sr/statusreport/article/49/4/1
        Card13
        • 1 Year Ago
        @knightrider_6
        Yes, a few of the vehicles tested had multiple systems available and ended up in multiple categories
      J
      • 1 Year Ago
      Based on the report on the website, it is the Mercedes E Class that received a perfect score, not the C Class (which didn't seem to be tested).
      Michael Scoffield
      • 1 Year Ago
      Mhm...Retard proofing cars. These system are completely and entirely useless if you know how to drive a car, and you not drunk or retarded. If you are any of those thing, you don't belong near the steering wheel of a car anyway and under no circumstance you should have a license.
      Michael Scoffield
      • 1 Year Ago
      Mhm...Retard proofing cars. These system are completely and entirely useless if you know how to drive a car, and you not drunk or retarded. If you are any of those thing, you don't belong near the steering wheel of a car anyway and under no circumstance you should have a license.
      AutoVido
      • 1 Year Ago
      Seems like some useful technology - do any of the systems also track vehicles behind the car, to try and even out the impact? Or maybe it is better to have 100% of the force hit you from behind if you are in the middle of a multi-car crash? Better for insurance purposes, and better to have the force push you back into your seat from behind vs the seat-belt and air-bag stopping you from going forward. (For those of us in the modern world - 12 miles per hour is about 20 km/hr and 25 miles per hour is about 40 km/hr.)
      sniperhunter2001
      • 1 Year Ago
      Something doesn't make sense here with their Infiniti scores. My M56S (Q70) will come to a complete stop from 12MPH, 25MPH, 75MPH, etc without getting too close to the car in front. It can prevent an accident entirely, and in the past I've had people short stop in front of me, and the car reacted before I could. I've tested the system numerous times, nervously hovering over the brake pedal (but not touching it) and without fail it does the job. I can't speak for their other test results since my other cars aren't optioned with the tech stuff.
        sjmoo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @sniperhunter2001
        This isn't testing the adaptive cruise control function. This test assumes all of that is turned off. These cars are driven at various speeds towards a foam barrier with the driver holding their foot on the accelerator. The collision prevention system is then supposed to prevent or mitigate the effects of the impact. It appears that the Q70's collision prevention doesn't work very well because it slowed the car less than 5mph before impact.
          sniperhunter2001
          • 1 Year Ago
          @sjmoo
          I'm not talking about adaptive cruise control. The Infinitis have the ability to bring a car to a complete halt and prevent an accident no matter the speed during regular and standard driving. The sensors can pick up a car that is way ahead of you and will display so on the dash, if you're casually catching up to it, it won't slow down until you're about 4-5 car lengths behind. If you're quickly catching up, it'll do it sooner than that. If you floor it behind the car, the throttle will resist and the brakes will apply. It'll keep you at least 3 car lengths behind. You'd have to turn the system off in order to make a close and risky pass/lane switch behind another car without a ton of interference. They got something wrong or were not using the system's functions correctly.
          sjmoo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @sjmoo
          @sniperhunter2001, Actually that isn't correct. Infiniti's system, like almost every other, has a maximum speed at which it will function (usually around 90mph). Having said that, I actually agree with you that something seems amiss here after looking back over the report. Particularly because the QX50 and QX70 were rated advanced. However, many different independent organization have tested these systems (particularly in Europe) and Infiniti's system is always among the worst. It simply doesn't "see" dangers soon enough because its laser-based scanning system is quite primitive. I wouldn't expect the Q70 to be that bad, though.
      ksrcm
      • 1 Year Ago
      " ... but the truth is, in more subtle ways, drivers have already ceded some control to automated systems. Many vehicles are already equipped with new technology that offers drivers active assistance behind the wheel." Look, let's hip it in the bud immediately. DRIVERS do not need nor do they get any assistance from those systems. Commuters do. In this case, actual semantics are very important. Why? Because it is past time to create "Commuting License" and give those out with current system. Which is anybody who breathes can have one. Then you can also earn "Driver License", hopefully with some perks, but you will need to show your driving skills for that. Let's start that immediately and maybe, just maybe, we will start getting to our destination in reasonable time in this country and start also dying a lot less at the same time.
      Michael Scoffield
      • 1 Year Ago
      Mhm...Retard proofing cars. These system are completely and entirely useless if you know how to drive a car, and you not drunk or retarded. If you are any of those thing, you don't belong near the steering wheel of a car anyway and under no circumstance you should have a license.
      taz00cdb
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why didn't they grit the new Q50 for Infiniti? The results make them look bad.
      SpikedLemon
      • 1 Year Ago
      What are the last 10% attributed to? Mechanical failure's root cause is likely human error as well.
      taz00cdb
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why didn't they grit the new Q50 for Infiniti? The results make them look bad.
      Doug Robb
      • 1 Year Ago
      Recently watched a replay of the show fifth gear where a group of cars were tested in the same manner, from the VW Up! to Mercedes, not all prevent the crash but like some of the bmw's do minimize the impact. The Volvo that was in the UK test had flashing lights that appeared in the drivers vision just before impact, seemed more effective than some of the others that had warning tones.
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