Does Collision Avoidance Technology Really Prevent Accidents?

collision avoidance technology

Vehicles have undoubtedly changed over the years, especially when it comes to safety technology. There was a time when cars were not equipped with air bags, anti-lock brakes or traction control. Now, of course, many of these features come standard on most new vehicles.

There is still new technology being introduced to further improve the safety of drivers on the road, however. One of the latest pieces of technology to make its way onto vehicles is collision avoidance technology. So what is it and how does it work?

What Is Collision Avoidance Technology?

Collision avoidance technology (CAT) is defined as “Technologies that actively scan for other vehicles or personnel and take automatic action to render the equipment to a safe state,” according to Case Study—Collision Avoidance conducted by John Snape of Xstrata Coal.

This type of technology falls under the umbrella of crash avoidance technology, which encompasses a “wide variety of vehicle features designed to help the driver operate the vehicle safely,” according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

In addition to anti-lock brakes, crash avoidance technology could include side view assist, park assist, adaptive headlights and curve speed warning systems.

As for specific collision avoidance technology, the most common types are those that are able to prevent crashes through braking or controlling the steering wheel, along with issuing warning signals when another vehicle or object is too close.

For instance, a study was recently conducted by the Highway Data Loss Institute (HDLI) to determine the effectiveness of low-speed collision avoidance technology equipped in specific Volvo models known as City Safety.

The CAT works by using an infrared laser sensor built into the windshield to monitor the area in front of the vehicle. When an object is detected, the technology automatically brakes to avoid front-to-rear crashes between vehicles traveling at speeds of 2 mph to 19 mph.

The HDLI found this technology to be effective in preventing crashes experienced at speeds of less than 20 miles per hour. But there are other cars equipped with similar technology and some wonder if it’s also effective in preventing crashes.

Is This Technology Effective Enough?

According to the HDLI, Volvo’s technology seems to work well. The researchers found that individuals driving the Volvo XC60—a specific model equipped with City Safety—reported 27 percent fewer auto insurance claims than comparable vehicles. Even better, bodily injury claims dropped by 51 percent.

Other studies have been conducted over the years to determine the relevance of the traffic collision avoidance system. This has assisted system manufacturers in developing technology to effectively address low- and high-impact crashes on the road.

However, with the exception City Safety, the IIHS has found that CAT and other forms of crash avoidance technology are not yet major forces in preventing catastrophic auto accidents, mainly because individuals who do have access to these systems do not use it responsibly.

Some see it as a reason to drive more recklessly, assuming the vehicle will make up for their shortcomings when behind the wheel. Others with intentions of using it correctly simply may not know how to allow the vehicle to do its job when faced with the threat of an accident.

System developers are said to be working on ways to make various forms of CAT more user friendly for drivers so that it can actually be effective on the road instead of causing more problems. Until this happens, experts suggest that drivers not jump to give up their collision auto insurance assuming that the technology will prevent all accidents.

Vehicles with CAT

There are currently a number of vehicles offering various types of collision avoidance technology. Here is a handful of cars that come equipped with these types of systems:

Acura RL

The RL was the first Acura vehicle to offer a Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), which “monitors rear-end collisions, uses audio, visual and tactile signals to alert drivers to the risk of collision, assists brake operation and pre-tensions the front seatbelts to help reduce impact force on occupants and vehicle damage should a collision become unavoidable,” according to the manufacturer’s website.

Ford Taurus

The 2010 Ford Taurus earned five-star crash ratings due to its safety features that include a radar-enabled advanced collision warning system and Cross Traffic Alert that warns drivers of hard-to-see parking lot traffic. The system provides a warning signal and audible warning when slower-moving traffic is detected ahead as well as a brake support system for close calls.

Infiniti EX

The 2011 Infiniti EX offers a number of CAT features, including adaptive cruise control, Intelligent Brake Assist (IBA), collision avoidance with forward collision warning, as well as lane departure prevention (LPD).


It was recently announced that some Toyota vehicles will come equipped with new crash-avoidance technology. While all information about the systems have yet to be announced, sources close to the manufacturer say that the technology will come with a combination of front and rear cameras, a millimeter wave radar technology to detect pedestrians or obstacles, as well as a feature that will take control of the wheel while forcing the car to brake.

It’s great that auto manufacturers are making the effort to develop features that can provide greater safety for all drivers and pedestrians on the road. Coupling this technology with great collision insurance coverage can offer drivers the highest level of protection possible.