AAA study finds drivers may be overly reliant on safety features

A recent AAA study says that many drivers do not understand the limitations of vehicle safety features.

Advances in technology mean that new cars sold today feature an impressive array of safety features, such as blind spot monitoring, lane keeping assistance, and forward collision warnings, that just a decade or so ago would have been considered the stuff of science fiction. However, while these technologies have the potential to dramatically reduce motor vehicle accidents and traffic fatalities, their effectiveness is still limited. As CBS News New York reports, a recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study has found that many drivers are overly reliant on advanced safety features, which ironically could lead to an increased risk of an accident.

Too much trust in technology

The AAA study surveyed drivers who had purchased either a 2016 or 2017 motor vehicle that had advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). The survey assessed drivers' understanding, opinions, and awareness of ADAS technology. The results showed that the vast majority of drivers greatly overestimate the capabilities of ADAS.

For example, as HealthDay reports, 80 percent of respondents couldn't identify limitations of blind spot monitoring, including the fact that blind spot monitoring cannot reliably detect pedestrians, cyclists, or vehicles that are driving at high speeds. Alarmingly, 25 percent of respondents said they didn't look over their shoulders to check for pedestrians or cyclists because they assumed their blind spot monitoring would detect pedestrians or cyclists for them.

Another 40 percent of respondents were confused about the differences between forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking. Unlike automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning will not automatically bring a vehicle to a stop; rather, it merely warns drivers if they are about to hit an object.

About a quarter of drivers said they felt comfortable doing other tasks while driving because they assumed their forward collision warning or lane keeping assistance technologies would warn them of any danger.

Technology has limitations

The AAA notes that if used properly, ADAS has the potential to reduce traffic fatalities by 30 percent and overall traffic accidents by 40 percent. However, it is important to realize that ADAS is only an aide and that it should not replace safe driving behaviors. An overreliance on ADAS technology can end up increasing the risk of an accident, especially if drivers do not actually understand what their car's technology is capable of and what its limitations are.

Personal injury law

For those who have been hurt in a motor vehicle accident, especially one that may have been caused by an inattentive or otherwise negligent driver, seeking justice will be a top priority. A personal injury attorney can help accident victims on their path to justice, including by assisting them with pursuing any claims for compensation that they may have a right to.