Forward-collision avoidance systems are one of the more promising car safety features available, IIHS's Rader says.
Lachnit says that these systems use various types of sensors, such as cameras, radar or light detection and ranging, also called lidar, to detect vehicles in front of you. "If your car approaches within a 'danger zone,' you'll get warning alerts," she says.
After a warning alert, the car may brake automatically. According to the IIHS, most of these systems pre-charge the brakes to maximize the effect if the driver responds, and some systems brake automatically even if there is no driver response.
SUVs equipped with Volvo's City Safety feature -- a low-speed forward-collision avoidance system -- had 27 percent fewer property damage liability claims, according to a study by the Highway Loss Data Institute. The technology essentially prevents rear-end collisions.
In a separate HLDI analysis of forward-collision systems that function at higher speeds on Acura and Mercedes-Benz vehicles, there were 14 percent fewer insurance claims under property damage liability.