IIHS: Auto-Braking Slashes Rear-End Crashes, Injuries by 40 Percent

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CARS.COM — Your friends may have your back, but crash-prevention technology has your front. A new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that front crash prevention systems reduce rear-end crashes and resulting injuries by about 40 percent.

Related: NHTSA Spotlight Could Hasten Spread of Auto-Braking Systems

Researchers examined police-reported rear-end crashes in 22 states from 2010 to 2014 involving Acura, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru and Volvo vehicles with optional front crash prevention systems. Crash rates for these vehicles were compared to rates for the same models, unequipped.

Forward collision warning alone was determined to reduce rear-end crashes by nearly a quarter, while forward collision warning in tandem with auto-braking brought that number to 39 percent; injuries resulting from rear-end crashes plummeted by 42 percent with these safety features. Volvo’s standard low-speed crash-prevention system, City Safety, was examined separately and found to reduce overall rear-end crashes by 41 percent and rear-end crashes with injuries by nearly half.

“If all vehicles had been equipped with auto-brake that worked as well as the systems studied, there would have been at least 700,000 fewer police-reported rear-end crashes in 2013,” IIHS stated. “That number represents 13 percent of police-reported crashes overall.”

This latest study bolsters an agreement made back in September by nine automakers that pledged to make forward collision warning and automatic braking systems standard on all new cars. These automakers include BMW, Ford, GM, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volvo and Volkswagen. IIHS and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urged other major automakers like Honda, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Hyundai-Kia to join the movement.

Cars.com named the 2016 Volvo XC90 — which like all new Volvos comes standard with the City Safety system that performed so well in the IIHS study — our Best of 2016 and purchased one for our long-term fleet. We’ll be reporting on our experience with the XC90 throughout the year; you can follow that coverage here.

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Former Assistant Managing Editor-News Matt Schmitz is a veteran Chicago journalist indulging his curiosity for all things auto while helping to inform car shoppers. Email Matt Schmitz

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