— Automakers and the federal government are doing their best to turn the dashboard of every new vehicle into the cockpit of an airliner.
In-vehicle technology is rapidly growing to include safety features that would have been considered science fiction a few years ago.
Safety technology is fine and good, as long as it works.
It takes time for technology to saturate enough real-world vehicles for researchers to gather data about what increases safety, what does nothing to help, and what might do more harm than good.
Another tool that seems to be helping is the forward collision avoidance system.
Forward collision warning systems warn the driver if the vehicle is gaining on the traffic ahead of it so quickly that it is about to crash.
Some of these systems also are equipped with auto-braking, meaning the vehicle will brake on its own if the driver doesn't respond in time.
Researchers found that insurance claims for rear-end collisions were lower in vehicles with forward collision technology. Claims for single-vehicle frontal crashes were also reduced, but by a smaller percentage.
The technology also helped slightly for injury claims.
Property damage claims for Acura and Mercedes models were 14 percent lower. Volvo's auto braking system also reduced crashes 10 percent.
Mercedes and Volvo also offer versions of forward collision warning that don't include autonomous braking. These appeared to lower crash rates, but not to the same extent as versions that do include it.