How Safe Is Your Next Car?

Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) have enhanced safety, but auto manufacturers need to continue to improve them to reflect real-world driving situations.

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Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) is the collective term for the safety technologies found in vehicles. The technologies have been in use since the early 2000s, and research has shown that they can dramatically reduce the number of crashes—and lessen the severity of those that do occur.

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research has evaluated common ADAS technologies and discovered that if all cars on the road had these safety systems and the systems were used correctly by drivers, they could possibly prevent more than 2.7 million crashes, 1.1 million injuries and nearly 9,500 deaths each year.

But we’re not there just yet when it comes to operating the safest cars possible. Many drivers don’t understand the technologies, so they turn them off. Or if they do use them, they may not fully understand how they work. Or maybe the driving conditions don’t present an ideal scenario. As the innovation continues to iterate, driver education will be key to success.

“I think we’re going to see that more and more vehicles are going to have these technologies,” says Greg Brannon, director of AAA’s automotive engineering and industry relations, “and that’s why we spend a lot of our research efforts and lobbying efforts to ensure that they’re being deployed safely.”

An ADAS primer

ADAS names, acronyms and functionality can be confusing, so here’s an introduction to common ADAS technologies you may encounter the next time you buy (or rent) a new car.

Infographic with information about safe driving technology

ADAS limitations

Despite the impressive innovation and potential of these technologies, ADAS aren’t fail-safe. It’s essential that drivers remain alert and engaged—and understand the limitations of these systems.

While ADAS technologies like ACC, LKA and AEB have proven to be effective safety measures for older drivers, some of the functional benefits are limited to certain driving conditions and speeds.

For instance, AAA recently conducted research on AEB’s performance at higher speeds for rear-end crashes, as well as for two types of crash scenarios that happen at intersections: T-bone collisions and crashes resulting from an unprotected left turn.

The AAA tests found that as vehicle speed increased, the effectiveness of AEB in preventing rear-end crashes dropped significantly. For tests conducted at 40 mph, AEB only prevented rear-end collisions 30% of the time.

In this news release, Bannon explained, “Testing requirements for this technology, or any vehicle safety system for that matter, must be updated to handle faster, more realistic speeds and scenarios with the greatest safety benefit for drivers.”

If you’d like to find out more about your own car’s safety features, visit The website is part of a national effort by the National Safety Council to educate drivers about these new safety technologies.

Infographic with information about T-bone collisions

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