Ratings of In-Vehicle Safety Technology

The Project


Courtesy of KROMKRATHOG
at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you’ve been car shopping lately, chances are that you’ve been offered the opportunity to purchase additional optional safety technologies that are intended to keep you safe while driving. Systems that automatically maintain following distance, notify you if you’re drifting from your lane, or even take control of the brakes to prevent a crash are becoming more and more common, and they’re no longer confined to the highest-end vehicles. In face, some technologies such as Electronic Stability Control, have proven so effective in saving lives that they are now required equipment in all newly manufactured cars, right alongside seatbelts and airbags.

Taken together, this means that even if you haven’t been in the market for a new automobile lately, the next time you visit a showroom you are likely to hear about some of these technologies. But are they really worth it? Some can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and car buyers may ask themselves: “What am I really getting for this money?”

That’s where we come in.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety funded a project to develop a data-driven system for rating vehicle safety technologies. The goal? Educate and empower car buyers so they can make confident purchasing decisions when presented with a range of safety add-ons. We also hope to do this  by highlighting what is known about these technologies – and what remains unknown.


The Matrix

Vehicle Safety Technology Rating Matrix

Click the grapic above to see how each technology has been rated for its overall safety benefit; that is, compared to other technologies, how helpful is this technology in saving lives and preventing crashes? For example, a technology that is very effective at reducing a specific type of crash will score highly in the scenario rating; however, if that particular crash type is rare, its overall safety benefit rating would likely be lower.