The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is responsible for rating performances of front crash prevention systems. They give ratings to systems with optimal or standard front crash prevention systems, and the ratings are basic, advanced or superior. The rating a vehicle receives depends on automatic braking and how it fares when tested at 12 mph and 25 mph. Superior vehicles can substantially avoid crashes, and advanced vehicles reduce speeds well or avoid crashes with automatic brakes. For a basic rating, a vehicle must feature forward collision warning technology that is in compliance with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s standards.
In their study, researchers tested luxury and moderately-priced midsize SUVs and cars. Seven of the vehicles earned superior ratings when they included forward collision warning technology and automatic brakes. The following vehicles made the cut:
– Subaru Legacy sedan
– Cadillac ATS sedan
– Volvo XC60 SUV
– Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan
– Cadillac SRX SUV
– Subaru Outback wagon
– Volvo S60 sedan
There were six vehicles that earned advanced ratings when they featured forward collision technology and automatic brakes. These included the following:
– Acura MDX SUV
– Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV
– Audi A4 sedan
– Lexus ES sedan
– Audi Q5 SUV
– Mazda 6 sedan
There were 25 vehicles that earned basic ratings. When equipped with automatic brakes, three of those models earned higher ratings with forward collision warning technology. Experts say that frontal crash protection systems may increase the cost of a car by $1,000 or more, and they feel that this data will help consumers decide which vehicles are worth that extra money. For crash testing, the institute considers head restraints, roof strength, the vehicle’s front, the small overlap front, the vehicle’s sides and its moderate overlap front. Ratings are based on performances in all of these areas, and they are poor, marginal, acceptable or good.
For front crash protection, systems may have different names based on varying manufacturers. However, they fall into the categories of crash prevention or mitigation with automatic brakes and forward collision. When a forward collision system detects the vehicle is about to crash into another vehicle in front of it, an alert is sent. The system does not stop or slow the vehicle. There are some systems that work with automatic brake systems to reduce the vehicle’s speed. It is important for drivers to know that while these systems may lower speeds, not all systems will ultimately prevent a collision on their own depending on the circumstances.
There are some systems that will completely stop a vehicle if a collision warning is not heeded. The reactions of some systems depend on whether the vehicle in front is stopped or moving. Experts say the point of automatic brake systems is to help drivers who are inattentive avoid smashing into the back of another vehicle. They point out that vehicles with the capability to brake for stopped or moving vehicles prevents the most crashes.
The institute also tests automatic brake systems through a series of five-minute runs. These runs are at speeds of 12 mph and 25 mph. Vehicles are driven toward non-moving targets that are supposed to simulate parked cars. The test vehicle’s sensors monitor speed, collision time, lane position, braking and other information. Vehicles may earn as many as five points for automatic brake tests, but these depend on how much systems slow vehicles to keep them from hitting inflatable targets.
The cars and SUVs with the systems ranking the highest were able to drastically lower speeds for slower and faster movement. Most systems were able to prevent collisions at 12 mph. Experts say they want to help drivers find the most effective systems. They also mentioned that there was new criteria for the highest safety accolade. To qualify for the 2014 award, vehicles had to earn a superior, advanced or basic rating for front crash prevention. In addition to this, they had to earn acceptable or good ratings for protection of occupants in small overlap front crash. Good ratings were also necessary for sides, moderate overlap front, head restraints and roof strength tests.