As lane-departure warnings and blind-spot detection systems become an option for school buses, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety published research that claims the technology could have prevented more than 70,000 injuries in passenger vehicle crashes, according to reviews of police reports.
Jessica Cicchino, IIHS vice president for research, evaluated different crash-avoidance solutions when studying data from 85,000 police reports of crashes occurring in 2015 and published the results this month. Her research on lane departure warnings purports that the rates of single-vehicle, sideswipe and head-on crashes of all severities are reduced by 11 percent and the rates of injuries in these crashes are lowered by 21 percent. This equates to a reduction of 55,000 injuries.
Cicchino’s analysis accounted for driver age, gender, insurance risk level and other factors that could affect the rates of crashes per insured vehicle year. But IIHS explained that there weren't enough fatal crashes to include in a statistical model that controlled for demographics. It said a simpler analysis that didn't account for driver demographics found that lane departure warning reduced the rate of fatal crashes by 86 percent.
The rate of all crashes was also 18 percent lower for vehicles equipped with the feature, and the rate of injury crashes was 24 percent lower.
Meanwhile, Cicchino also studied the effect of blind-spot monitoring systems in crashes. She found that vehicles with blind-spot monitoring systems that were involved in the crashes reduced injuries by 23 percent and reduced crashes by 14 percent compared to vehicles without the technology. Her research concluded that blind-spot monitoring systems equipped on every U.S. vehicle in 2015 could have reduced an estimated 50,000 crashes and nearly 16,000 injuries.
"This is the first evidence that lane departure warning is working to prevent crashes of passenger vehicles on U.S. roads," Cicchino said. "Given the large number of fatal crashes that involve unintentional lane departures, technology aimed at preventing them has the potential to save a lot of lives."
Fred Andersky, director of customer solutions for controls at Bendix Commercial Vehicle Safety Systems that makes crash-avoidance technology, said the research is the latest reminder that these solutions can further improve the school bus safety record and reduce liability. However, much of the industry has yet to move toward equipping school buses with related equipment and sensors.
“I think this (study) reinforces the value of these systems to help (school bus) drivers, and others on the road, stay safe. And when you combine these into a single system that enables priority alerting, you get the best of all worlds to help drivers in more situations without over alerting the driver,” commented Andersky, who took part in a panel discussion on automated safety for school buses at the STN EXPO in July. “As we move towards more automation in the vehicle, these warning systems, such as lane departure warning and blind-spot detection, become the foundation technologies for lane keeping and other automated functions. Again, all with the purpose of helping drivers avoid crashes.
“(We) need, however, to move the school bus industry along to taking advantage of these technologies.”