There's no question that technology has made auto travel safer -- in fact, gadgets ranging from safety belts to airbags are at least partially responsible for the fact that U.S. highway fatalities have hit record lows. According to a new study, collision-avoidance systems like Volvo's City Safety could make those stats fall even further.

The news comes from the Highway Loss Data Institute, which recently looked at insurance claims filed by owners of Volvo XC60 SUVs outfitted with the City Safety collision-avoidance system. City Safety is designed to prevent front-end collisions in low-speed environments -- like in bumper-to-bumper traffic. It works best when the vehicle is moving 9 mph or slower, but can also assist in braking at higher speeds.

The HLDI compared insurance stats from the City Safety XC60s to claims submitted by (a) owners of other midsize luxury SUVs and (b) owners of other Volvo models without City Safety. Here's what they found:

1. Compared to other luxury SUVs, City Safety-equipped XC60s filed 27% fewer property damage claims, 51% fewer bodily injury claims, and 22% fewer collision claims overall.

2. Compared to other Volvos, the XC60s filed 19% fewer property damage claims, 49% fewer bodily injury claims, and 17% fewer collision claims.

3. Curiously, while the average collision claim was lower for XC60 owners, property damage claims were higher -- $270 higher than for other luxury SUVs and $646 higher than for other Volvos. The HDLI says that although that might at first appear odd, it's actually a sign that City Safety works and is preventing the low-speed collisions it was designed for. In other words, the XC60s were avoiding the slower collisions and filing only in more severe cases.

This is very promising news. When paired with higher-speed collision-avoidance systems (which are also available from Volvo, as well as other brands, at increasingly affordable price points), this technology may drastically reduce the number of accidents on roadways. Add in some vehicle-to-vehicle technology -- which promises to cut accidents by 81% on its own -- and we're looking at much, much safer roadways for everyone.

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