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Self-saving cars top tests

2013-09-30 10:10

HIGH RATINGS: Volvo's S60 has been named as one of the seven safest cars according to an insurance group. Image: Volvo

NEW YORK CITY, New York - Seven mid-size vehicles earned the top rating in a new insurance industry test of high-tech safety features designed to prevent head-on collisions.

The Cadillac ATS and SRX, Subaru Legacy and Outback, Mercedes C-Class and Volvo S60 and XC60 won "superior" ratings in tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

POINTS ADVANTAGE

The institute tested 74 mid-sized cars and SUV's from the model years 2013 and 2014. Those equipped with front collision-warning and automatic braking systems generally scored better. The systems can either warn the driver or automatically stop the car if they sense a potential collision.

The institute IIHS, a nonprofit research group funded by insurance companies, has pushed government regulators and automakers to require or offer optional new safety systems such as anti-lock brakes. The group is also pushing automakers to bolster front-end crash resistance.

Automakers have been offering the frontal-crash systems on more models as the price of the technology falls. The systems use radar, cameras, ultrasonic sensors and computers to spot objects in front of cars and determine if a collision is possible. A driver may be warned to take action, or the system may apply the brakes itself.

POINTS ADVANTAGE

The IIHS said its data institute has determined that the devices help drivers avoid a head-on collision but even so auto insurance companies generally aren't offering discounts for people who buy them. Insurance companies say that as the systems become more popular in certain models, insurance claims will decline. Those models eventually will see discounted rates.

In the tests, six other cars got second-best "advanced" ratings, while 25 received "basic" ratings. Another 36 got no rating because they didn't have the systems or it didn't meet the institute's standards.

The institute says the tests will help people decide which features to buy and encourage automakers to adopt the new technology faster.

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