By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — They’re supposed to warn you before a crash, or even stop your car before a crash happens.  But are high tech safety systems sold by automakers really worth it?  3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan takes a look.

Auto crashes cause thousands of dollars in damage along with serious injuries and even death.  But the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an insurance industry financed research group, says high tech systems improve safety in front-end crashes.

They’re known as Collision Avoidance Technology, and the Institute tested several systems to see if they’re effective and worth your money. “We find they help reduce crashes with other vehicles by about seven percent,” says David Zuby, Chief Research Officer for Insurance Institute.  He was talking about just the work of the warning system which beeps to alert drivers that a collision is coming.

With an automatic braking system, the Institute says, the effectiveness doubles.  Two mounted cameras act like a second pair of eyes and have the power to bring a vehicle to a complete stop.

In a front-end crash the top performing Subaru Legacy and Outback, Cadillac ATS and SRX, Mercedes Benz C Class, and Volvo S60 and XC60 without autobrakes could have damage exceeding $28,000.  But with autobrakes, the damage is reduced down to $6,000.   Zuby says, “We think it is worth the money.”

But the cost can be significant, from hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on how advanced the system is.  This technology is mostly optional now.  Only about five to 10 percent of new cars are being sold with these systems.  The seven vehicles mentioned above got the top rating – “Superior” – when tested alongside 74 other cars.

To see how others vehicles performed, visit:

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