ADAS could save big bucks, lives and crashes

timelineA new report from Boston Consulting Group found that advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) could benefit society, reduce the number, cost, and severity of automotive accidents. The report recommends ways to have ADAS adopted faster.

Some 33,000 people are killed each year in automotive accidents in the United States. These crashes cause 3.9 million injuries and damage 24 million vehicles, according to U.S. government estimates. The cost to society totals about $910 billion annually, equivalent to roughly 6 percent of U.S. GDP, says BCG in the report.

ADAS could prevent 28 percent of all crashes in the United States if new-car buyers invested in the most common currently available ADAS features. The technologies could prevent approximately 9,900 fatalities and save about $251 billion to society each year, BCG found. That’s about two and a half times the amount that the federal government spends on education annually.

Despite these potential safety benefits and cost savings, relatively few vehicles on the road today have these features, and their market penetration is growing at only 2 to 5 percent annually.

The study focused on the seven ADAS features and feature combinations that are most prevalent in the U.S. market: forward collision warning/assist/adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection, night vision, lane departure warning/lane keep assist, adaptive front lighting, surround view, and park assist features.

Consumers have been slow to adopt ADAS features, partly because they are unwilling to pay as much for them as they cost to make and market. For example, according to a recent consumer survey, most car owners said they would be willing to pay $100 to $400 for blind spot detection. Its current cost to consumers, however, is $595 per vehicle.

Other reasons for the sluggish uptake include buyers’ lack of awareness of the features, insufficient explanation of the features at the point of sale, and the fact that some features are not widely available. As a result, most ADAS technologies have a slow adoption curve. Surround-view systems, which first became available in 2010, are installed in only 1 percent of new vehicles today and will be installed in only 3 percent by 2020. Their average cost is expected to fall during that time, from $900 per vehicle to $660, but the average consumer’s willingness to pay for that feature is $390 today, the study found.

On a cumulative basis, the projected cost savings or “safety contribution” of ADAS technologies works out to more than $16,000 ($16,307) per vehicle over a vehicle’s expected 20-year life.

The study notes that ADAS features, together with their underlying sensor technologies, form the “building blocks” of partially autonomous driving, which in turn will give rise to fully autonomous driving. BCG forecasts that fully self-driving vehicles could generate societal savings of as much as $53,000 per car sold when they have fully penetrated the market.

Suggested actions to help implement ADAS are:

  • Consumer education and marketing campaigns.
  • Incentives or credits for ADAS purchases.
  • Mandates that require the industry to achieve certain safety improvements within a fixed time period.
  • A mix of federal tax incentives and discounts on insurance premiums to steer consumers toward available safety technologies.
  • At the same time, NHTSA’s New Car Assessment Program should be updated to recognize established and emerging advanced safety technologies, and U.S. safety officials and their international counterparts must come together to harmonize regulations, given that ours is a global industry.


Even with the issues with cybersecurity, data privacy, and liability, the authors say that to keep up with the rapid pace of technological advancement, regulators and legislators should increase their collaboration with industry, boosting funding for research, and providing longer-term guidance to stakeholders.

The authors conclude with a “call for action” consisting of eight recommendations for policymakers. “If the market penetration rate of ADAS features increased by just 1 percent by 2020, it would produce an additional $3.4 billion in cumulative safety benefits,” they note.