IIHS questions the effectiveness of five new safety features

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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