The automotive industry is ushering new and improved safety features designed to mitigate the likelihood of a crash. In fact, many new vehicles already come standard with these features.
However, emerging vehicle safety technology is not meant to replace driver attention and responsibility. Sometimes, these systems can malfunction or fail to detect a potential hazard in the roadway. When drivers purchase vehicles that come with these safety features, they must understand the risks associated with them.
The implementation of vehicle safety technology comes on the heels of the staggering rate of traffic fatalities in the US. In recent years, the death toll has hovered around 40,000 fatalities per year. Despite the influx of safer vehicles, 2018 hasn’t seen much improvement.
From January to June 2018, the U.S. had approximately 18,720 road deaths, which marks only a 0.5 percent decrease from the same period of 2017. This raises the question: if vehicles are becoming safer, why are traffic fatalities so high?
Pros and cons of vehicle safety technology
According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), many drivers who purchase new vehicles equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) fail to recognize the limitations of these features.
ADAS features include:
- Blind spot monitoring systems: This feature is designed to alert drivers when another vehicle is passing in a blind spot by flashing a signal in the side mirrors.
- Forward collision warning: This feature is designed to alert drivers of a potential collision hazard. For example, if traffic comes to a stop, the system will emit a sound.
- Lane keeping assist: This feature is meant to prevent drivers from veering out of their lane or off the road.
While these systems may be reliable in most cases, they may not always work. Drivers who rely too much on ADAS features are at a high risk of causing a devastating crash.
In a statement regarding ADAS, Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety weighed the pros and cons of this technology.
“When properly utilized, ADAS technologies have the potential to prevent 40 percent of all vehicle crashes and nearly 30 percent of traffic deaths. However, driver understanding and proper use is crucial in reaping the full safety benefits of these systems,” Yang continues, “Findings from this new research show that there is still a lot of work to be done in educating drivers about proper use of ADAS technologies and their limitations.”
Researchers from the University of Iowa surveyed drivers who purchased vehicles manufactured in 2016 and 2017. The results are alarming. When asked about blind spot monitoring, 80 percent of drivers were unaware of the feature’s limitations. Moreover, participants were unaware that blind spot monitoring may fail to detect bicyclists, pedestrians, and other vehicles passing at high speeds.
When asked about forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking systems, nearly 40 percent of motorists were either unaware of the limitations or misunderstood the implementation of these features. Around one in six participants also didn’t know whether or not their vehicles featured automatic emergency braking.
Technology reliance is a factor in distracted driving
Shockingly, the survey also found that drivers of vehicles equipped with ADAS are more likely to engage in distracted behavior. Roughly 25 percent of respondents using blind spot monitoring or rear cross traffic alert systems admitted to relying on this technology and taking their attention off the road.
Additionally, about 25 percent of drivers of vehicles equipped with forward collision warning or lane departure warning systems admitted to feeling comfortable enough to take their attention off the road.
That is exactly what happened in Phoenix, Arizona when a self-driving Uber struck and killed a pedestrian. The vehicle was designed to detect obstacles in the road and automatically apply the brakes. However, Uber intentionally turned off the automatic braking system as part of its testing. And when the vehicle failed to detect a pedestrian crossing the street, the backup driver was reportedly watching an episode of The Voice on her cellphone.
ADAS safety features have their advantages when it comes to keeping our roadways safer. AAA reports that this technology is capable of preventing more than 2.7 million traffic accidents, 1.1 million injuries, and almost 9,500 traffic fatalities each year.
While ADAS features may reduce the likelihood of an accident, those who use this technology must do so with care and be prepared to take control when safety features fail to do what they were designed to do.
What to do after an accident with a distracted driver
When a driver’s distracted behavior puts someone else at risk, he or she should be held accountable. If you or a loved one was injured in an auto accident in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, you may be faced with a heap of medical expenses as you’re unable to attend work and collect a paycheck. The financial and emotional burden can take a toll on your life.
That’s not right. An experienced auto accident attorney can fight for the justice and compensation you deserve, so you can focus on recovery. These types of cases are usually product liability cases against the manufacturer of the vehicle. Usually, you will need the vehicle as evidence in this type of case, so time is of the essence after a collision. Attorney Coby L. Wooten works on a contingency fee basis, which means that you don’t pay unless he wins your case.
Contact us today to schedule a free, confidential case evaluation.