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Are new vehicle safety features making the roads unsafe?

While numerous auto manufacturers are moving toward fully autonomous vehicles in the future, they must reach that goal by clearing several technological advances. These high-tech safety features can include things like blind-spot monitoring, forward-collision warning and lane-keeping assist. Collectively, these features are referred to as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). New research, however, suggests that advanced technology might be negatively impacting driver safety.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety acknowledges that ADAS technology has the potential to prevent up to 40% of all vehicle collisions and nearly 30% of traffic deaths. Unfortunately, the report also concludes that most drivers don’t realize the limitations of these safety features.

In the AAA study, they noted that nearly eight out of 10 drivers didn’t fully understand the limitations of this system which could lead to misuse or overreliance on the technology. Many of those surveyed believed the system could monitor the road behind the car or reliably detect bicycles, pedestrians and vehicles passing at high speed. Additionally, nearly 40% of the drivers either didn’t understand the limitations of the forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking systems – and often confused the two safety features.

About 25% of drivers felt comfortable enough with their ADAS that they didn’t feel the need for a visual check around the vehicle to clear blind spots before a lane change. Moreover, about 25% of the drivers in the study relied on the ADAS so strongly they felt comfortable completing other tasks while operating the vehicle.

Additional safety features are a virtual certainty in the next few years. Technology will improve to the point – eventually – that many driving actions will be taken out of the driver’s hands. Unfortunately, we are currently in a learning curve and drivers must be fully aware of the limitations of the ADAS and remain in complete control of their vehicle at all times.