Active safety technology such as automatic emergency braking systems that can prevent a wreck even if the driver doesn't hit the brakes have become increasingly common on new vehicles. Consumer Reports found that many drivers have already experienced the benefits of a digital safety net.
In a new Consumer Reports study, the results of which were released Tuesday, the majority of the 72,000 drivers surveyed said driver-assistance technologies have helped them avoid a crash. Fifty-seven percent of drivers reported that automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, or other technologies at some point acted as a safeguard. Lane-departure warnings and active lane control are also part of ADAS suites, as is pedestrian detection.
Aside from stating if the features have helped avoid a collision, respondents also scored their satisfaction with individual systems. Of them all, blind-spot monitors were most popular. The systems illuminate a light on the exterior mirrors when they detect that a vehicle has entered a blind spot. One driver noted it saved her from a crash with a motorcyclist who sped by. In all, 60 percent of those surveyed said blind-spot warning saved them from a crash. It was also the system drivers turned off the least.
The least-liked driver assistance features were active lane control and lane-departure warnings. Drivers reported the warning chimes are often annoying and some automakers include vibrations. Others reported too much steering correction from active lane control when the systems attempted to re-center a driver. Naturally, the two features were most often deactivated while driving.
Although below the majority, forward collision alert and automatic emergency braking were also popular as 47 percent of drivers said the featured helped avoid a crash. Data from the IIHS also highlights that vehicles equipped with both systems reduce rear-end collisions by 50 percent. Rear automatic emergency braking was more popular with 52 percent of drivers saying it helped avoid a crash. The system applies the brakes if it detects a vehicle as a driver backs out of parking space, for example.
Although automatic emergency braking isn't a mandated feature, 20 automakers have signed an agreement to make the system standard by 2022 on all of its vehicles. The agreement includes every major automaker that does business in the U.S., and that will surely expose more drivers to the active safety technology in the near future.