Aftermarket safety tech could reduce your risk of a crash

From collision avoidance systems to autonomous vehicles, the technology to reduce motor vehicle crashes is already on the market. In the best new cars, drivers are warned about everything from drifting out of their lane to approaching an obstacle. In many cases, the car can respond to an imminent collision more quickly and skillfully than the best driver. And the technology continues to improve.

Unfortunately, the technology isn't standard on all new cars -- at least, not yet. And what if you're not in the market for a new car? Do you have to wait for the technology to gradually become available in the used car market? Luckily, much of the technology is available on the aftermarket. You can have an advanced driver assistance technology system installed in your existing car for around $1,000.

Insurance test shows that warning systems improve driver performance

Among people with advanced driver assistance systems in their vehicles, 56% say the system helped them avoid a collision in the first three months, according to a J.D. Power spokesperson.

That's pretty powerful. But there may be another benefit -- the warnings these systems give, such as lane departure warnings, forward collision warnings, and headway monitoring, which gauges the distance between your car and the one in front of it. The warnings are an important part of collision avoidance, but they may also encourage better driving overall.

Consider the experience of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The research group tried an advanced collision assistance system on 22 vehicles owned by their employees. The system didn't have the ability to actually apply the brakes before a crash, but it gave audio and visual warnings for lane departures without signaling, objects in the vehicle's path, insufficient headway and speeding.

Some of the test subjects found the warnings irritating at first. Sometimes, the system did seem to overreact, scolding a driver for cutting a corner on a curve with no other traffic nearby, for example. Others reported that the headway monitoring feature was frustrating because it went off when the car in front of the user slowed down.

Overall, however, the drivers rated the system positively enough that all but one employee opted to keep the system after the test was over.

Moreover, all that beeping had a noticeable effect on the drivers. In every area but speeding, the drivers' performance improved significantly over the course of the study. In fact, 62% of the drivers reported having changed their driving -- using turn signals more often and following less closely, at least.

Would these types of warnings help you be a safer driver? How about your teen?

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