An insurance industry organization concluded that Volvo XC60s equipped with the company's City Safe collision avoidance system are 27 percent less likely to be involved in a fender-bender.

"These are very large effects," says Adrian Lund, president of the Highway Loss Data Institute, which is a subsidiary of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Volvo's City Safety system uses forward-looking laser sensors to detect and measure the speed of vehicles ahead.

When a collision appears likely, the system issues an alert with a flashing dashboard light and a loud beeping sound to warn the driver to brake immediately.

At speeds below 20 miles per hour, City Safe automatically brakes the Volvo and can prevent collisions if the difference in speed between the vehicles is less than 10 mph. If the difference is larger than that, then there will probably be a collision, but it won't be as severe as it would have been.

That was Volvo's claim, at least. But now the insurance group is backing that claim up, it seems to be a real injury-preventing and money-saving technology.

While some differences in driving styles of XC60 owners might come into play, "the pattern of results strongly indicates that City Safety is preventing low-speed crashes and reducing insurance costs," said Lund. "That's great news for consumers. As people grow more aware of the risks of distracted driving, crash avoidance systems like this one can help to ensure that a momentary lapse of attention during a congested commute doesn't result in a crash."

The system is designed to prevent low-speed fender-benders rather than protect drivers from injuries in high-speed crashes, but the technology employed promises to gain that capability in the future. That will help reduce the annual traffic fatality rate even further as the technology learns to save lives in addition to saving sheetmetal.

author photo

Dan Carney is a veteran auto industry observer who has written for MSNBC.com, Motor Trend, AutoWeek, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Better Homes and Gardens and other publications. He has authored two books, "Dodge Viper" and "Honda S2000" and is a juror for the North American Car of the Year award. Carney covers the industry from the increasingly strategic location of Washington, D.C.

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