New insurance data shows how different safety systems can reduce auto accidents. Consumer Reports have a good video showing tests of forward collision avoidance systems. These use radar to sense what's in front of your car, and will even apply the brakes if you don't respond to warnings about a slow-moving vehicle up ahead. Such systems were the most useful approaches, according to the data.
Notably, headlights that move in line with the front wheels were the next most useful systems. These have been available since the 1920s. I guess it makes sense to light where you're going.
The lesson I take from these results is that the data that counts is not necessarily data generated by a vehicle in traffic, but data released through insurance claims. To put it brutally, we can only learn about accidents from accidents.
When talking about telematics, we need to take care that we don't assume all future improvements on the road will derive from on-board devices or roadside systems. It may also be that data acquired from vehicles and roads can be used to discover accident conditions that we can't see with the human eye. Also, insurance data can help us distinguish between where telematics can help, and where other approaches – like car design or road layout – can contribute to greater safety. Consumer Reports