Max Dorfman, Research Author, Triple-I
As more new vehicles are equipped with crash avoidance features, some owners are reporting significant problems with the technologies after repairs, according to a recent report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
In the survey, about half of those who reported an issue with equipped front-end collision prevention, blind-spot detection, or rear-view or other vision-enhancing cameras said at least one of those systems had problems after the repair work was completed.
Still, many owners remained eager to have a vehicle with these features and were content with the out-of-pocket cost, according to Alexandra Mueller, senior research scientist at IIHS.
“These technologies have been shown to reduce accidents and related injuries,” Mueller said. “Our goal is that they continue to provide these benefits after repairs and that owners can be confident that they are working properly.”
As problems with these technologies persist, the study finds that tracking repair issues is important to drive the adoption of crash-avoidance features. IIHS research has shown that front-end collision prevention, blind-spot detection, and rear-view cameras significantly reduce the types of accidents they are designed for. For example, according to the IIHS, automatic emergency braking reduces the number of rear-end collisions reported by the police by 50 percent.
Analysis conducted by the IIHS-affiliated Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) showed that the reduction in insurance claims associated with Subaru and Honda crash avoidance systems remained essentially constant, even for vehicles more than five years old. But repairs can require calibrating the cameras and sensors that the features rely on to work properly, making repairs complicated and costly.
For example, a simple windshield replacement can cost as little as $250, while a separate HLDI study found that vehicles equipped with front-end crash prevention are much more likely to have glass damage of $1,000 or more. Much of this higher cost is likely related to calibration.
The new IIHS study found owners often had more than one reason to fix these security features. Most had received a vehicle recall or service bulletin about their function, but that was rarely the only reason they brought their vehicles in for service or repair.
“Other common reasons – which are not mutually exclusive – were windshield replacement, accidental damage, a dealer or workshop recommendation, and a warning light or error message from the vehicle itself,” the study says.
Repair difficulties could motivate drivers to turn off crash avoidance features, potentially increasing the likelihood of collisions. But despite the problems after the repair, the study found that just over 5 percent of owners would choose not to buy another vehicle with the repaired feature. As reckless driving and road deaths continue to increase, advanced driver assistance systems are becoming increasingly important for road safety, requiring reliable technology.
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