Safety First: Car Crashes, Innovation, and Why Federal Policy Should Prioritize Adoption of Existing Technologies to Save Lives
A Consumer Reports study analyzed the safety benefits of currently available (in the year 2020) crash avoidance systems and other existing motor vehicle safety technologies. The study included a review of the safety research that has been conducted to provide a guide for policymakers and the auto industry on how best to reduce road crashes, deaths, and injuries. The focus of this analysis was the publicly available fatality reduction benefits of safety technologies, extrapolated to the entire U.S. light vehicle fleet—with systems evaluated based on existing technologies, as opposed to creating estimates of effectiveness based on simulated or idealized technology.
Fatality reduction benefits were examined for four existing crash avoidance technologies: automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane departure warning (LDW), blind spot warning (BSW), and pedestrian detection. Additionally, the fatality reduction benefits of two safety applications for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications technologies were investigated: intersection movement assist (IMA) and left turn assist (LTA). The focus of this analysis was limited to NHTSA’s publicly available fatality reduction benefits of existing safety technologies, extrapolated to the entire U.S. light-duty motor vehicle fleet of approximately 250 million vehicles.
Lastly, one drunk driving prevention technology was investigated. An analysis of NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) was used to estimate the lives that could be saved if the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) prevented drivers from operating a vehicle if they had a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher.
- The analysis found that currently available automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane departure warning (LDW), blind spot warning (BSW), and pedestrian detection technologies would be expected to result in fatality reductions of 11,800 lives per year once fully adopted fleetwide.
- Two safety applications using V2V communications technology, intersection movement assist (IMA) and left turn assist (LTA), would be estimated to save more than 1,300 lives per year with full fleet adoption.
- One existing drunk driving prevention technology, the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS), would be estimated to save 3,700-7,400 lives annually under the scenarios assessed.
- Summed together, existing motor vehicle safety technologies would save 16,800-20,500 lives per year if equipped across the full U.S. light vehicle fleet. This totals approximately one-half of the 36,560 lives lost on U.S. roads in 2018.