Highway Car Accident Avoidance Features Make Driving Safe but Systems are Hard to Fix

Highway car accident

Highway car accident avoidance systems have been shown to improve safety — as long as the hardware and software are in good repair. Car owners are reporting that the complex safety features on new vehicles, like front crash prevention and blind spot detection are proving very difficult to get repaired after they stop working.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) surveyed car owners who had to have such safety features repaired. About half of them said the products didn’t work right after being serviced.

“Most of the more than 3,000 owners we contacted said they had never needed to have their crash avoidance features repaired, but for the minority of owners who did, the problems weren’t always resolved easily,” said IHS Senior Research Scientist Alexandra Mueller, who designed the survey. “Many had issues with the technology afterward, and some said they had to have the same feature repaired more than once. Still, the vast majority said they would buy a vehicle equipped with the technology again and most were satisfied with the out-of-pocket cost.”

Fewer Highway Car Accidents

Research shows that “smart” safety systems like front crash prevention, blind spot detection, and rearview cameras all produce significant reductions in highway car accidents. For example, Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) reduced rear-end crashes by 50 percent. A study from the IIHS-affiliated Highway Loss Data Institute revealed that the decrease in insurance claims related to Subaru and Honda crash avoidance systems remained virtually unchanged even in vehicles that were more than 5 years old.

Although the systems are fairly reliable in reducing highway car accidents, repairs involve intricate measures, like calibrating the sensors and cameras on which the features depend to function correctly. Repairs are tricky and can be expensive.

For example, repairing or replacing a windshield had become fairly routine and inexpensive. Someone from a windshield repair franchise would come to your home and business and take care of the problem, which may cost you an insurance deductible. But on newer vehicles with crash prevention systems, windshield replacement could cost up to a thousand dollars. And two-thirds of the time the systems don’t work as well afterward.

Many people had multiple motives for getting their features serviced. Though they generally were alerted of the need to do so via a vehicle recall or service bulletin, this was not always the only factor. Other common contributing factors that could be experienced concurrently included windshield replacement, damage from a highway car accident, the dealership’s or repair shop’s suggestion, and an error signal or notification from the car.

When it came to repair issues, those whose technology was fixed due to crash damage or windshield replacement experienced the most problems. Approximately two-thirds of those who had the crash avoidance feature repaired about a windshield replacement and nearly three-quarters of those who had it fixed due to a crash reported difficulty with the tech afterward. Comparably, those who had repairs done for other causes faced fewer problems after.

When it comes to windshield repairs, calibrating crash avoidance sensors and cameras is usually required. This is a standard procedure for many such repairs, as automakers usually specify that the systems must be calibrated whenever a sensor is taken out, reinstalled, or replaced. Additionally, calibration is often the initial step when dealing with a malfunctioning feature. Of those surveyed who had repairs done, roughly two-thirds mentioned that calibration was included in the service. Furthermore, these same respondents had a higher frequency of post-repair issues.

It appears that going back to the repair shop a few times is ordinary for customary mechanical repairs, and most people noted that their insurance or warranty took generally took care of the cost.

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