Study: New Auto Tech Misunderstood

The latest automobiles come with all types of bells and whistles designed to keep drivers safer.  But all of those advanced features could actually make our roads more dangerous, if not used properly.  A new study from the AAA Traffic Safety Foundation finds that most drivers either don't properly understand or misuse the safety technology in their vehicles.  "Lack of understanding or confusion about the proper function and limitations of advanced driver assistance systems can lead (drivers) to possibly misuse and over-rely on those systems," says Josh Zuber, AAA spokesman.

In particular, the research finds that many drivers over-estimate the capabilities of features like blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.  "False expectations of these advanced driver systems can easily lead to misuse of the technology," says Zuber.

Blind-spot monitoring was one of the biggest problem areas found in the study.  Nearly 80 percent of drivers mistakenly believe the system can detect fast-approaching vehicles behind your car, or detect bicycles and pedestrians.  "In reality, the technology can really only detect a vehicle driving in a driver's blind spot," says Zuber.  Furthermore, many drivers think the technology can replace their own safety checks.  "About one in four drivers using blind spot monitoring or rear cross-traffic alert systems reported feeling comfortable solely relying on the systems, and not performing visual checks," says Zuber.

With cars getting more technologically advanced every day and even self-driving cars on the horizon, the onus is on drivers to educate themselves on how best to use these features to enhance safety.  "It's about really making sure you're educated on your vehicle's features, whether that's talking to the dealership or relying on the owner's manual," says Zuber.

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