While active safety features like crash avoidance help prevent accidents, they can make repairs trickier and lengthier if they get damaged, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or IIHS reports. Crash prevention technology also frequently makes repairs more expensive according to IIHS studies.
Crash avoidance and other active safety features cut down on accidents, with the IIHS citing the example of rear-end crashes cut by 50 percent in police reports after introducing automatic emergency braking or AEB. Therefore, costly repairs are much less likely with active safety features in operation.
The systems themselves typically aren’t damaged even if an accident does occur. In those instances where the active safety system needs to be repaired, however, it can be difficult to correctly recalibrate, potentially resulting in multiple trips to the service center or mechanic.
Alexandra Mueller, the Senior Research Scientist for IIHS who designed the study, noted that in the small percentage of cases where active safety technology needed repairs, vehicle owners “had issues with the technology afterward, and some said they had to have the same feature repaired more than once.”
Mueller added that owner satisfaction with the systems remained high despite the extra cost and hassle of additional repairs. However, the need to recalibrate the active safety systems can send the price of even fairly ordinary repairs skyrocketing. The cost of replacing a windshield can jump from $250 to $1,000 if front crash prevention is present, the Highway Loss Data Institute or HLDI reports.
The number of active safety features equipped as standard on vehicles is increasing sharply. This makes it more likely systems that are costly to repair will be damaged in collisions in the future, though those accidents themselves should be much rarer.
The IIHS previously published a study pointing out automatic emergency braking or AEB cuts the number of overall crashes by 43 percent, rear-end collisions by 42 percent, and serious or fatal injuries by a whopping 77 percent. Unfortunately, the same study showed AEB is least likely to be equipped on pickup trucks, the most common vehicle type on the road.
While active safety features like AEB greatly reduce crashes and make those that occur less likely to seriously injure or kill someone, the IIHS also warns owners tend to dangerously overestimate what semi-autonomous driver assist systems can do. GM Super Cruise is a prime example, with owners tending to treat the equipped vehicles as fully autonomous self-driving robots and not vehicles still in need of constant human attention and input.
53 percent of GM Super Cruise users told IIHS they treated their vehicle as fully self-driving, meaning they potentially took their hands off the wheel for extended periods or stopped paying attention to the road.