Study says lane departure warning systems don’t prevent crashes

2012-Mercedes-Benz-CLS-63-AMG-Drivers-Side-MirrorCar companies are constantly developing new technologies to keep drivers safer, but how effective are these new gizmos? The Highway Loss Data Institute, an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, determined that not all safety systems work as advertised. A study by the institute found that lane departure warning (LDW) systems can make driving more unsafe.

“Lane departure warning appears to hurt, rather than help, though it’s not clear why,” the study said. LDW systems use sensors to see when a car strays out of its lane, and alert drivers to take corrective action. The study found that cars equipped with LDW have a 10 percent higher crash rate than cars without it.

The Insurance Institute did not reach any solid conclusions about that figure, but IIHS chief research officer thinks it could be down to human error. Drivers may become annoyed by the systems’ warnings and shut them off, or ignore them.

The newness of LDW may also encourage people to use it as a crutch. Some drivers may assume that their LDW system will alert them in time to prevent a crash in every situation, and consequently pay less attention themselves.

The IIHS did say that, if used properly, LDW systems could save 7,529 lives per year.

Mercedes-Benz, which offers LDW as an option on several of its cars, thinks the study’s sample size was too small for the 10 percent statistic to be significant.

“Given the small sample size, the increase is not statistically significant,” Mercedes spokeswoman Donna Boland told USA Today. “We are confident as to the safety benefits of lane departure systems and would assume that further studies with a broader vehicle population would bear that out.”

So if LDW is a flop, what safety technologies do work? According to the study, forward collision avoidance systems and adaptive headlights are the most affective. These systems can brake a car autonomously to prevent a crash, and swivel headlights to see around corners, respectively.

“So far, forward collision technology is reducing claims, particularly for damage to other vehicles, and adaptive headlights are having an even bigger impact than we had anticipated,” said Highway Loss Data Institute vice president Matt Moore.

Blind spot monitoring and park assist, two other new safety technologies, had no discernible effect on crash rates, the study said.

All of the systems tested in the study are optional extras, and often cost thousands of dollars. Some are only available from luxury brands like Mercedes, Lexus, or Infiniti.

Cars

Audi’s traffic light information system shows the challenges facing V2X tech

Audi’s traffic light information system is among the first commercial applications of potentially game-changing V2X tech. So how does it work in the real world? We spent a few days getting stuck at red lights to find out.
Cars

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe gets a tech upgrade, keeps quirky styling

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe debuts at the 2019 New York Auto Show with an upgraded infotainment system that incorporates Mercedes' digital assistant. The SUV launches later this year with turbocharged four-cylinder power.
Cars

Can electric cars be S3XY? Tesla says yes with the new Model Y crossover

Tesla introduced a crossover named Model Y at its design studio in Los Angeles. It's a more spacious alternative to the Model 3 it shares 75 percent of its parts with, and is a smaller sibling to the Model X.
Product Review

The Nissan Rogue is smart, handsome, and practical. What’s not to love?

Year after year, Nissan’s Rogue compact crossover is a consistent best-seller, outpacing Honda’s CR-V, and even Toyota’s mighty RAV4. We looked for the reasons why people love the 2019 Nissan Rogue, and found them.
Cars

Mercedes wants to turn your car into a comfortable shopping mall on wheels

Mercedes-Benz designed its MBUX infotainment system with e-commerce in mind. Motorists can upgrade compatible cars via an over-the-air software updating system, but the brand wants to take this technology to the next level.
Cars

Nvidia’s new simulator brings virtual learning to autonomous vehicle developers

Nvidia introduced a simulator for testing autonomous vehicle technologies. Drive Constellation is a cloud-based platform technology vendors can use to validate systems efficiently, safely, and much faster than with vehicles on real roads.
Product Review

Who needs a Range Rover? BMW’s X7 has better tech and just as much luxury

The 2019 BMW X7 is the German automaker’s long-overdue entry into the full-size luxury SUV segment. Packing three rows of seats and plenty of tech, can the new BMW take on Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover?
Cars

Tesla wirelessly gives the Model 3 a 5-percent increase in power

Tesla again showed the potential of its innovative over-the-air software updating system by making the Model 3 five percent more powerful via a firmware update. The Performance model gained 23 horsepower.
Cars

Fiat wants to transform the cheeky 500 city car into an urban Tesla

Fiat is finally preparing a new 500. Scheduled to make its debut in early 2020, the retro-chic city car will go electric in part to comply with looming emissions regulations.
Cars

Say goodbye to Uber for good: Here's how to cut ties with the ridesharing service

If you thought that deleting the Uber app would also delete your account, think again. You'll have to deactivate your account, then wait 30 days in order to do so. Here, we outlined how to delete your Uber account once and for all.
Cars

FWD vs. RWD vs. AWD: How the wheels that turn change the way you drive

Let's face it, you've likely heard front-, rear-, and all-wheel drive mentioned before in some context or another. But what do these terms mean, especially in terms of performance? We’ve got the answers.
Cars

Shift it yourself: How to drive stick in a manual transmission car

Driving a manual transmission car might seem intimidating at first, but it's not as difficult as you might think. Knowing how to operate this type of gearbox will serve you well. Here's everything you need to know to learn how to drive…
Cars

Waymo boosts robo-taxi plans with new service center in Arizona

Waymo has announced plans for a facility in Phoenix, Arizona, that will help to service, maintain, and grow its fleet of autonomous Waymo One cars. The vehicles operate as part of the company's robo-taxi ridesharing service.
Cars

Vivint’s Car Guard keeps tabs on your vehicle when you’re not in it

A simple plug-in that you can place in just about any vehicle, Vivint's new Car Guard will automatically detect if your car is bumped, towed, or stolen and will alert you about it.