Carmakers are always coming out with acronyms for new safety devices that promise an era of motoring with less injury, fewer serious accidents and cheaper repair costs. As soon as a new technology is released, insurance companies and the safety lobbyists come out in swarms demanding that these features are installed or else insurance premiums will go through the roof or the pedestrian council will be out picketing to make these new “safety” features mandatory.

According to information and statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the US, whose mission is to “Save lives, prevent injuries, reduce vehicle-related crashes,” real-world evidence does not support the claims made by manufacturers that Antilock Braking Systems (ABS) actually reduce the number and severity of motor vehicle incidents.

Research shows that motorists driving vehicles with added safety features tend to drive more aggressively and take greater risks than drivers of cars without, and in fact that ABS can actually increase the chance and severity of accidents in some situations. The study found that ABS had no real benefit on dry-surface braking and that cars equipped with ABS took longer to stop on icy roads and were more likely to be involved in a rollover. Just something to ponder the next time you slam into your brakes.