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Can Automatic Braking Systems Prevent Car Crashes?
Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Automatic braking systems could cut the number of low-speed crashes by a quarter if widely adopted, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute. The high-tech braking systems, which are currently installed on some new Volvo vehicles, use a special laser sensor built into the windshield to automatically apply the vehicle’s brakes, and potentially avoid a rear-end crash.

Evidence that these brakes are keeping people from crashing was released today by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. IIHS found that the version of automatic braking in new Volvo SUVs prevented 25% of low-speed crashes.

According to a report in USA Today, the positive findings make it more likely that similar crash-prevention technology will become more common in the production of new motor vehicles.  IIHS President Adrian Lund states "This is a very hopeful sign, and it does indicate that at least one of these new technologies is working."

The next step in braking technology would be brakes that work automatically when a vehicle is about to crash at a high rate of speed.  However, these systems are still rare – there aren't enough vehicles ready for researchers to quantify how effective high-speed imminent brakes are. The hope is that these brake systems will save lives and prevent serious injuries in automobile accidents due to driver negligence.  

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