It is amazing what technology now comes standard on a new car, truck or SUV. With rear cameras now standard on nearly every car sold in the US in 2018, and a host of other technology coming to the forefront recently, there is now a large enough sample size for industry to be in a position to test what is working and how well. Roughly 4 in 10 new vehicles sold in America have options for rear cross-traffic alerts which provide a driver a warning if they are backing up with a vehicle crossing their path. This feature is standard on a mere 1 in 9 of new vehicles.
That said, testing showed positive results for those vehicles equipped with rear cross traffic alerts and/or automatic rear braking features. In tests, those vehicles with automatic rear braking were involved in zero back up collisions. Why is this testing so important? Aside from saving the lives of children who are run over in accidents each year, repair costs to vehicles have risen as the cost of replacement parts has gone up over recent years.
From the findings:
To illustrate how repair costs can add up, the Institute conducted four low-speed demonstration tests with and without rear autobrake, and then tallied the damage as a claims estimator would. Scenarios included the XT5 backing into a pole and the Outback reversing into a 2016 Chevrolet Cruze. When equipped with rear autobrake, the vehicles didn’t strike anything, so there was no damage. Without autobrake was a different story.
The XT5 needed an estimated $3,477 in repairs after backing into a pole. Damaged parts included the bumper cover, tailgate, hitch bar, energy absorber, rear body panel, trim and assorted brackets.
When the Outback backed into the Cruze’s rear bumper, the estimated damage for both cars came to $1,899 — $1,159 for the Outback and $740 for the Cruze.
The key now will be getting more of this technology standard on new vehicles. Right now, the biggest hurdle is that a lot of these safety features are tied in with unrelated luxury features that all come as part of a given upgrade package. So for example, if you want the cross traffic alerts, you have to shell out for $3K worth of upgraded sound system. Let’s hope that the auto industry stops looking at features like this as a luxury add-on moving forward.