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Collision-warning, auto-braking systems put to the test for first time

(CBS News) The results are in from a first-of-its-kind test on vehicles. For the first time, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety looked at nearly 75 models' sophisticated collision-warning and auto-braking systems in an effort to see just how well they really work.

Thousands of dollars' worth of damage and potentially serious injuries - and even death - could be the result if a car doesn't have the latest collision-avoidance technology.

The Insurance Institute's David Zuby said the technology makes cars "definitely" more safe, helping drivers avoid being in crashes with vehicles in front of them. He added, "The technology is getting better every year."

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety put dozens of vehicles to the test. At 12 and 25 miles per hour, the crash tests separated the top performers from the disappointments.

The Subaru Outback tested the best. At 25 mph - with a foot off the brake and danger ahead - there was a warning and then a reduction in speed. The auto braking system actually stopped the car before the collision.

Among the other vehicles getting the highest rating: the Cadillac ATS sedan, Mercedes Benz C Class and the Volvo S60 sedan.

Among the disappointments, the Toyota Prius V and Infiniti JX.

Zuby said, "Both of these cars are advertised as having auto-braking systems; in our tests we did not measure hardly any reduction in the speed of the crashes at 12 and 25 miles per hour."

Most motorists don't even know their car is equipped with the technology. But officials with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety say it's something you should be aware of the next time you buy a car.

Infiniti officials say they're going to study the results of the tests while Toyota officials say that their Prius V does not have auto-braking technology, and they say that they don't advertise that it does - what they say is their vehicle has a pre-collision system that mitigates the effects of a crash.

Watch Jeff Pegues' full report above.