Do high-tech safety features decrease auto accidents?

Thursday April 2, 2020

In the last few years, cars with high-tech safety features have become more and more popular. Drivers increasingly choose vehicles that have any of the following features:

  • blind-spot monitoring (noting objects in a vehicle’s blind spot)
  • forward-collision warnings
  • lane assist (helping drivers stay in the correct lane)
  • emergency braking capabilities
  • adaptive cruise control (which adjusts a car’s speed on its own)

However, having these high-tech systems doesn’t mean that drivers are automatically safer. In fact, according to a 2018 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, most drivers don’t understand the limitations of these high-tech safety systems.

Safety system limitations

For example, nearly 80% of drivers don’t realize that blind-spot monitoring won’t detect the following in a car’s blind spot:

  • bicycles
  • pedestrians
  • fast-approaching vehicles

Drivers also don’t understand that a forward-collision warning is just that: a warning. It isn’t the same as emergency braking, where a car quickly brakes on its own.

Safety system use and driver behavior

In a separate AAA study, researchers found that drivers who used high-tech vehicle safety systems were twice as likely to engage in distracted driving than other drivers. They felt comfortable enough that the systems would work, and they could afford to be engaged in something else.

As a result, distracted drivers, even if they have high-tech safety systems, likely are not safe drivers. If a distracted driver takes their eyes off the road for five seconds while traveling at 55 miles per hour, their car has traveled the length of a football field. That’s plenty of space to end up in a devastating accident.

In the end, no matter what high-tech car safety systems that drivers use, they need to stay alert and keep their eyes on the road. Ultimately, a careless driver can cause an accident at any time.

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