Study Shows Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Detection Reduce Crashes

August 28, 2017

Lane departure warning and blind spot detection systems can significantly prevent crashes if consumers use the features, according to two new studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHG).


Single-vehicle, sideswipe and head-on crashes are reduced 11 percent if the vehicle is outfitted with lane departure warning systems, IIHS found. The rate of injury-inducing crashes decreases 21 percent with the technology.


The lane departure warning study included crashed General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru and Volvo vehicles produced between 2009 and 2015. The study looked at vehicle identification numbers to ensure the crashed vehicles were outfitted with the technology.


The study controlled for driver age, gender, insurance risk level and other factors that could affect crash rates. A simpler analysis that didn't account for driver demographics found that lane departure warning cut the fatal crash rate 86 percent. Also in the simpler analysis, the rate of all crashes dropped 18 percent for vehicles equipped with the feature, and the rate of injury crashes slid 24 percent.


Jessica Cicchino, IIHS Vice President for research, conducts the studies using data from police reports, isolating specific types of vehicular crashes through evaluating the circumstances that caused them. A previous study she conducted found that front crash prevention with auto-brake halves the rate of front-to-rear crashes, and rear-view cameras can prevent about one in six backing crashes.


"This is the first evidence that lane departure warning is working to prevent crashes of passenger vehicles on U.S. roads," Cicchino said in a statement. "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.


Had all passenger vehicles been equipped with lane departure warning, the study finds, nearly 85,000 police-reported crashes and more than 55,000 injuries would have been prevented in 2015. The results indicate numbers IIHS considers "modest" when compared with similar studies abroad because U.S. drivers often turn off lane departure warning.


"Depending on the way you drive, lane departure alerts can go off fairly frequently in the course of regular driving even when there is no imminent danger," Ian Reagan, an IIHS senior research scientist and lead author on a separate study published in June. "Systems that beep seem to annoy people more than systems that warn the driver with vibrations of the seat or steering wheel."


How easy the feature is disengaged is another factor. Most lane maintenance systems studied can be deactivated with the push of a button, IIHS finds. The Volvo XC90's active lane-keeping system had a much higher than average observed use rate because drivers are required to navigate to a menu and take several steps before turning off the system.


"When we have evidence that technology works and there are ways to make it work better -- such as to make it less annoying for drivers so that they use it -- we hope that automakers implement it," Cicchino said.


In the blind spot detection study, Cicchino looked into crashes in which the vehicles were changing lanes or merging. Fiat Chrysler, GM, Honda, Mazda, Mercedes and Volvo vehicles were included.


Controlling for other crash risks, blind spot detection decreases the rate of lane-change crashes by 14 percent and the rate of injuries by 23 percent, she found. If all passenger vehicles were equipped with the systems it would prevent 50,000 police-reported crashes a year, the study found.


Charniga, Jackie (2017).  "IIHS: Lane departure warning, blind spot detection reduce crashes". Retrieved from


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