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Advanced car safety systems could encourage reckless driving

Many of the new vehicles available in New York and around the country feature advanced electronic systems that are designed to monitor road conditions and prevent accidents, but the safety benefits of semi-autonomous technology have been brought into question by a study from the American Automobile Association. According to researchers from the advocacy organization's Foundation for Traffic Safety, features like emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control encourage reckless driving and could actually be making the nation's roads more dangerous.

Researchers came to this conclusion after polling 1,200 owners of 2016 and 2017 model year vehicles equipped with advanced driver assistance technology. They discovered that most drivers believe these features are far more capable than they actually are and become less vigilant as a result. Questions about adaptive cruise control systems revealed a particularly worrying example of this overconfidence. Almost a third of the drivers surveyed said that they regularly attend to other tasks such as checking cellphone messages when these systems are engaged.

The AAA study also suggests that car manufacturers and dealers could do a better job of informing their customers about the limitations of advanced driver aids. Only 20 percent of the respondents knew that blind-spot monitoring systems have difficulty coping with fast-approaching vehicles and less than half knew the difference between forward-collision warning systems and automatic emergency brakes.

Technology designed to prevent accidents can also reveal what transpired in the seconds before a crash. Advanced automobile safety systems gather and store large amounts of data, which can be extremely valuable to investigators and personal injury attorneys seeking compensation for car crash victims. Attorneys could use the information stored on black box-type devices to establish negligence in car accident lawsuits by revealing that drivers took no evasive action to prevent an accident or were exceeding speed limits when they crashed.

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