Blind Faith in Car Safety Technology Is Dangerous, Study Finds

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Confused driver
Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley /

Today’s newer cars are wonders of technology. But a failure to fully understand how safety systems work in these cars can pose dangers to those who drive them, according to new research from AAA.

The study found that after six months of use, drivers understood driving assistance technology a bit better than when they first got their vehicles. However, their knowledge still remained partial.

Yet despite this truth, drivers dangerously overestimated their level of expertise.

The study focused on how well drivers understand adaptive cruise control (ACC), a common advanced driver-assistance system. It helps drivers with acceleration and braking so that a car keeps a constant driver-selected gap to the car in front of it.

In particular, AAA says many drivers with such systems are guilty of:

  • Falsely believing that the system will react to stationary objects in their lane, such as construction cones or other obstacles.
  • Falsely believing that the system will provide steering input to keep the vehicle in its lane.
  • Falsely believing the system can operate in all weather conditions.

AAA says drivers who try to learn about these systems on their own struggle to master them, while those who complete a hands-on training session are more likely to learn how to use them adequately.

AAA is urging researchers, automakers, and government agencies to “work together to better understand driver performance, behavior, and interactions in vehicles with advanced technologies.”

In addition, AAA is asking drivers to request hands-on training in the systems at a car dealership, to read the owner’s manual description of the systems and to learn more about the safety systems at the manufacturer’s website.

Also, drivers should not simply guess at what the systems can and cannot do or rely too much on this technology to keep them safe while driving.

For more on the dangers of overestimating car safety technology, check out “Don’t Trust These 2 Car Features When It’s Raining.”

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