Are collision avoidance systems, automatic braking and adaptive headlights worth their extra cost? A study by the Highway Loss Data Institute says yes.

Those three new automotive technologies seem to reduce crashes. Matt Moore, VP of HLDI says, "So far, forward collision technology is reducing claims, particularly for damage to other vehicles, and adaptive headlights are having an even bigger impact than we had anticipated."

The study "how each feature affected claim frequency under a variety of insurance coverages for damage and injuries." The analysts says their data indicates that avoidance systems offered on Acura and Mercedes-Benz lowered property damage liability (PDL) claims by 14 percent. Volvo models equipped with similar equipment saw a 10-percent improvement.

Volvo's numbers, however, may have been skewed by the fact their system is bundled with lane departure and fatigue warning devices. The study surprisingly showed that lane departure alert systems seemed to actually increase crash claims.

"Lane departure warning may end up saving lives down the road, but so far, these particular versions aren't preventing insurance claims," Moore says. "It may be that drivers are getting too many false alarms, which could make them tune out the warnings or turn them off completely. Of course, that doesn't explain why the systems seem to increase claim rates, but we need to gather more data to see if that's truly happening."

The HLDI is a non-profit affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

See video below for more information from David Zuby, chief research officer with IIHS.

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