Safety Technologies

Overview

In 2015, 35,092 people died in motor vehicle crashes. Research shows that 94 percent of crashes are tied to a human choice or error. NHTSA is working to promote vehicle technologies that hold the potential to reduce the number of crashes and to save thousands of lives every year. Learn more about NHTSA's work to bring these technologies to America's cars and trucks.

NHTSA in Action

Brakes

Automatic Emergency Braking Systems

How AEB Works

What are automatic emergency braking systems?

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems detect an impending forward crash with another vehicle in time to avoid or mitigate the crash. These systems first alert the driver to take corrective action to avoid the crash. If the driver’s response is not sufficient to avoid the crash, the AEB system may automatically apply the brakes to assist in preventing or reducing the severity of a crash. NHTSA believes these technologies represent the next wave of potentially significant advances in vehicle safety. AEB systems, such as dynamic brake support (DBS) and crash imminent braking (CIB), have the potential not only to save lives but also to reduce moderate and less severe rear-end crashes that are common on our roadways.

Explaining Crash Avoidance Technology
Automatic Emergency Braking

Dynamic Brake Support versus Crash Imminent Braking

If the driver brakes but not hard enough to avoid the crash, dynamic brake support (DBS) automatically supplements the driver’s braking in an effort to avoid the crash. If the driver does not take any action to avoid the crash, crash imminent braking (CIB) automatically applies the vehicle’s brakes to slow or stop the car, avoiding the crash or reducing its severity.

In 2012, one-third of all police-reported crashes involved a rear-end collision with another vehicle as the first harmful event in the crash, and NHTSA believes that advanced crash avoidance and mitigation technologies like AEB systems could help in this area. NHTSA’s extensive research on this technology and on relevant performance measures showed that a number of AEB systems currently available in the marketplace are capable of avoiding or reducing the severity of rear-end crashes in certain situations.

How much will these technologies add to vehicle cost?

Crash imminent braking and dynamic brake support have been available on some vehicle models in the United States since 2006. CIB and DBS systems are typically included in safety technology packages as optional features. Manufacturers are using a number of different sensor combinations in production-level AEB systems. The agency conducted a cost analysis of several production-level systems and found that the system cost varies significantly depending on the type and number of sensors used.

Pedestrian Automatic Emergency Braking

What is pedestrian automatic emergency braking?

A pedestrian automatic emergency braking (PAEB) system—also known as frontal pedestrian impact mitigation braking—is an emerging safety technology that provides automatic braking for vehicles when pedestrians are in front of the vehicle and the driver has not acted to avoid a crash.

Explaining Crash Avoidance Technology
Pedestrian Automatic Emergency Braking

Watch how a new safety technology keeps Tested.com’s Adam Savage from hitting a strangely familiar pedestrian.

How does it work?

A PAEB system is a crash avoidance system that uses information from forward-looking sensors to automatically apply or supplement the brakes when the system determines a pedestrian is in danger of being hit by a vehicle. PAEB systems typically use cameras, but some also use a combination of cameras and radar sensors.

What types of crashes does it prevent?

Many pedestrian crashes occur when a pedestrian is crossing the street in front of the vehicle. Four common pedestrian crash scenarios include when the vehicle is:

  1. Heading straight and a pedestrian is crossing the road;
  2. Turning right and a pedestrian is crossing the road;
  3. Turning left and a pedestrian is crossing the road; and
  4. Heading straight and a pedestrian is walking along or against traffic.

Does NHTSA recommend PAEB?

NHTSA has not set performance specifications for this feature, but NHTSA recognizes PAEB as a promising technology that may be added to the 5-Star Safety Ratings list of recommended technologies in the future. PAEB systems are an option on many new cars, SUVs and trucks and can help you avoid a crash. To find out if PAEB is available in the vehicle you’re interested in buying, check out the manufacturer’s website.

NHTSA in Action

Backup Cameras

Safety Spotlight
Rearview Video Systems

What is a rearview video system?

A rearview video system (RVS), also known as a backup camera, is a safety technology that helps prevent backover crashes and protect our most vulnerable people—children and senior citizens. By providing an image of the area behind the vehicle, backup cameras help drivers see behind the vehicle.

How does it work?

When a driver shifts a vehicle into reverse, the RVS shows—either in the dashboard or in a small display in the rearview mirror—an image of the area behind the vehicle. The field of view includes a 10-foot by 20-foot zone directly behind the vehicle. It’s important to remember that rearview video systems are not a replacement for mirrors or turning around to look; rather, they’re an added safety tool for revealing hidden dangers.

Does NHTSA recommend rearview video systems?

Yes, in fact, by May 2018, NHTSA will require this life-saving technology on all new vehicles. Until then, we recommend you look for RVSs that meet NHTSA’s performance specifications when shopping for a vehicle.  Today, RVSs are optional equipment on many new cars, SUVs and trucks. To find out if RVS is available in the vehicle you’re interested in buying, visit NHTSA’s 5-Star Safety Ratings and search for 2011 vehicles and newer.

NHTSA in Action

Forward Collision

What is a forward collision warning system?

A forward collision warning (FCW) system is an advanced safety technology that monitors a vehicle’s speed, the speed of the vehicle in front of it, and the distance between the vehicles. If vehicles get too close due to the speed of the rear vehicle, the FCW system will warn that driver of an impending crash. It’s important to note that FCW systems do not take full control of the vehicle or keep the driver from operating it.

Explaining Crash Avoidance Technology
Forward Collision Warning

You’ve got to see it to believe it. Tested.com’s Adam Savage demos a warning system that alerts you to help avoid a crash.

How does it Work?

Understanding FCW Systems

FCW systems use sensors to detect slower-moving or stationary vehicles. When the distance between vehicles becomes so short that a crash is imminent, a signal alerts the driver so that the driver can apply the brakes or take evasive action, such as steering, to prevent a potential crash. Vehicles with this technology provide drivers with an audible alert, a visual display, or other warning signals, and in this way, help prevent frontal crashes into the rear of slower moving or stopped vehicles.

Does NHTSA recommend forward collision warning systems?

Yes. FCW systems meet NHTSA’s performance specifications, and we recommend you look for this technology when shopping for a vehicle. FCW systems are an option on many new cars, SUVs and trucks. To find out if FCW is available in the vehicle you’re interested in buying, visit NHTSA’s 5-Star Safety Ratings and search for 2011 vehicles and newer.

NHTSA in Action

Lane Assist

Lane Departure

Understanding Lane Departure

What is a lane departure warning system?

A lane departure warning (LDW) system is an advanced safety technology that alerts drivers when they unintentionally drift out of their lanes without a turn signal. It’s important to note that LDW systems do not take full control of the vehicle or keep the driver from operating it.

How does it work?

LDW systems use a camera to monitor lane markings and detect when a vehicle is drifting out of its lane of traffic. When it detects that a vehicle is veering out of its lane, an audio, visual, or other alert warns the driver of the unintentional lane shifts so the driver can steer the vehicle back into its lane.

What types of crashes does it prevent?

LDW systems provide a valuable safety benefit, and can help keep you and your passengers safe from crashes such as:

  • Striking a car in an adjoining lane, which could either involve “sideswiping” a vehicle traveling in the same direction or hitting a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction; and
  • A rollover, which often occurs when a vehicle leaves the road.

Does NHTSA recommend lane departure warning systems?

Yes. LDW systems meet NHTSA’s performance specifications, and we recommend you look for this technology when shopping for a vehicle. LDW systems are an option on many new cars, SUVs, and trucks. To find out if LDW is available in the vehicle you’re interested in buying, visit NHTSA’s 5-Star Safety Ratings and search for 2011 vehicles and newer.

Lane Keeping

What is a lane keeping support system?

Using lane monitoring technology, lane keeping support (LKS) is an emerging safety technology that prevents drivers from unintentionally drifting out of their lanes.

LKS systems use information provided by sensors in a lane departure warning system (LDW) system to determine whether a vehicle is about to move out of its lane of travel. If so, LKS activates by correcting the steering, braking or accelerating one or more of the wheels, or a combination of both, resulting in the vehicle returning to its intended lane of travel.

Explaining Crash Avoidance Technology
Lane Keeping Support

Stay in your lane, Adam! Watch Adam Savage from Tested.com veer out of his lane, only to be saved by a new advanced safety technology.

What types of crashes does it prevent?

LKS systems provide a valuable safety benefit, and can help keep you and your passengers safe from crashes such as: 

  • Striking a car in an adjoining lane, which could either involve “sideswiping” a vehicle traveling in the same direction or hitting a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction; and
  • A rollover, which often occurs when a vehicle leaves the road.

Does NHTSA recommend lane keeping support systems?

NHTSA has not set performance specifications for this technology. This technology may enhance the safety of the vehicle, and you may want to consider this technology when buying a new vehicle.

NHTSA in Action

Blind Spot Detection

What is blind spot detection?

Blind spot detection (BSD) systems warn drivers with an audio or visual warning if there are vehicles in adjacent lanes that the driver may not see. The alerts allow drivers to proceed with caution if they are planning a lane change.

Explaining Crash Avoidance Technology
Blind Spot Detection

NHTSA works with Tested.com’s Adam Savage to show how new safety technology detects cars in your blind spots.

How does it work?

BSD systems use sensors to detect vehicles in adjacent lanes and warn drivers of approaching vehicles. These systems are most effective when drivers are passing other cars, being passed or making a lane change. Some systems provide warnings when vehicles are in the vehicle's rear blind zones, and some provide warnings only if the vehicle’s turn signal is on.

Does NHTSA recommend BSD?

NHTSA has not set performance specifications for this feature, but NHTSA recognizes BSD as a promising technology that may be added to the 5-Star Safety Ratings list of recommended technologies in the future. BSD systems are an option on many new cars, SUVs and trucks and can help you avoid a crash. To find out if BSD is available in the vehicle you’re interested in buying, check out the manufacturer’s website.

NHTSA in Action

Call 911

What are automatic crash notification systems?

An automatic crash notification (ACN) system is an emerging safety technology designed to notify emergency responders that a crash has occurred and provide its location.

How does it work?

In most cases, when the ACN sensor detects either that an air bag has deployed or there’s been a dramatic and sudden deceleration, the system automatically connects to an operator, who will then be able to communicate with passengers in the vehicle after a crash. The operator is also able to collect basic information from the vehicle, without passenger input, to provide to emergency responders so they can easily locate and reach the scene of the crash.

Automatic crash notification systems can reduce death and disability by decreasing the time it takes for emergency medical services to arrive at a crash scene and transport victims to a hospital. More lives can be saved and the severity of injuries reduced if a crash victim receives medical care as soon as possible, particularly within the first hour following a crash. ACN is especially beneficial to crash victims in rural areas, where there are typically fewer or no witnesses to call emergency responders.

Does NHTSA recommend ACN systems?

NHTSA has not set performance specifications for this technology. This technology may enhance the safety of the vehicle, and you may want to consider this technology when buying a new vehicle. Today, ACN systems are available as an option on many new cars, SUVs and trucks.