According to recent studies by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), crash avoidance features like forward collision warning, lane departure warning and automatic emergency braking are especially effective among drivers under 25.
The HLDI performed three separate studies of insurance claims data. The three studies focused on vehicles from Honda, Kia and Subaru. The researchers compared data from vehicles with manufacturer crash avoidance packages and identical vehicles not equipped with the technology. They collected the data from insured drivers.
Each manufacturer had different features in their packages, but all three companies’ bundles included forward collision warning and lane departure warning. Kia’s Drive Wise and Subaru’s EyeSight bundles also included automatic emergency braking (AEB).
These relatively new safety features use cameras and sensors to monitor the roadway and let the driver know when there is an obstacle ahead or if they begin to drift out of their lane. AEB applies brakes automatically to avoid or mitigate collisions when the driver fails to react quickly enough to the warnings.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, these three technologies help prevent two types of crashes that are more common among younger drivers: front-to-rear collisions and run-off-road crashes.
Adding AEB drove down claim frequency a lot
All three of the technologies were effective at reducing crashes and claims. Interestingly, the features in Kias and Subarus reduced claim frequency and severity more among younger drivers than among those 25-64 and 65+. The Honda crash avoidance features had about the same effect on drivers 16-24 and 25-64.
One caveat is that the features can be turned off in all three cases. The HLDI did not have a way to determine whether older drivers might be turning off the features more often than younger ones.
Ultimately, for drivers under 25, the Kia Drive Wise bundle drove down claim frequency by nearly 60%. Subaru’s EyeSight bundle brought down claims by a little over 20%, and Honda’s features dropped claims by nearly 20%.
What could explain the age-related differences?
That is unclear from the studies. It may be, however, that younger, less-experienced drivers may be more easily distracted (by their phones or friends for example) and are more likely to drift from their lanes or fail to notice upcoming obstacles. Or, the younger drivers may actually use the collision-avoidance features to learn better habits. The older drivers may be less reliant on crash avoidance technology because they have more road experience.
Should you get a Kia with Drive Wise or one of the other vehicles studied?
The studies did not compare these vehicles to other cars or to an industry standard number. They only compared these three feature bundles. There is no good way to know how well these features compare to those of other manufacturers.
However, if you are looking to improve the safety of a young driver, it looks like these three features are fairly effective at reducing the frequency and severity of crashes. Most manufacturers offer features like these, at least as optional features. If you are buying a new car, opt in to crash avoidance technology.
If you rely on used cars, be aware that some of these features can be added as aftermarket bundles. This can be an affordable way to get newer crash avoidance tech without the sticker shock.