(NEW YORK) — Light poles, parked cars, shopping carts and running children are just a few examples of the many dangers on the minds of drivers when they throw their vehicles in reverse.
As automakers roll out technology to help minimize those risks, a recent study has analyzed how effective the features are in practice.
“Let’s face it. Some days we all could use help backing up, whether that’s in a garage with pillars that obscure your view, in a crowded mall parking lot or on a busy downtown street,” said David Zuby, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s executive vice president and chief research officer.
“The systems we rate in our first batch of tests will help reduce the chances of a backing fender-bender,” he added.
The IIHS tested six models of cars with rear autobrake and how they performed in a series of car-to-car and car-to-pole tests, with different approach angles, at low speeds. The tests do not evaluate whether the features can mitigate injuries in crashes.
The Cadillac XT5 and Subaru Outback earned “Superior” ratings when equipped with optional rear autobrake, parking sensors and rear cross-traffic alert.
The BMW 5 series sedan, Infinity QX60, Jeep Cherokee and Toyota Prius all scored “Advanced” ratings from the study.
New models from various automakers commonly offer rear cameras, sensors and alerts that can assist drivers in reverse.
But emergency auto braking, which was key to a high score in the study, is a rare feature. Only five percent of 2018 passenger vehicles include it as an option and only one percent offer it as a standard feature.
When compared to vehicles with no back-up features, cross-traffic alert cut down backing crashes by 22 percent in the study.
When researchers added rear-view cameras and sensors on top of that, the crashes were reduced by 42 percent; and when researchers looked at models that also had rear automatic emergency braking, they saw a 78 percent reduction of backing crashes.
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