Safety is the most important feature of any car. The fastest, prettiest, most fuel-efficient vehicle isn’t worth much if it can’t get us to our destination in one piece.
And yet, some of the features on our cars actually make the road more dangerous. These include systems that were designed to make driving easier.
Following are some car attributes that might make driving riskier.
1. Red turn signals
Almost every driver in America has red-colored rear turn signals on their vehicle — and that is a problem.
As we have reported, amber rear turn signals have a statistically significant advantage over red turn signals when it comes to preventing accidents.
A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that amber signals reduce some types of two-vehicle crashes by 5.3% — if not more — compared with red turn signals. That may be because amber provides a contrast to red brake lights.
2. Dark paint colors
Can the hue of your car put your life in jeopardy? Possibly, according to a pair of studies.
A 2003 study published in The BMJ (British Medical Journal) found that there is “a significant increased risk of a serious injury in brown vehicles.” It noted that risk also is higher if you drive a black or green car.
Meanwhile, a 2007 study out of the Monash University Accident Research Centre in Australia found “darker colours and colours with low contrast to the road environment … tend to be associated with a higher crash risk, particularly in daylight hours.” The researchers found that black cars have the highest crash risk.
3. Navigation systems
A car navigation system is a modern marvel, allowing you to view a map that shows your car’s location at any moment and offering help to get you to your destination. However, these systems have a safety downside, according to a 2017 report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Programming a navigation device takes an average of 40 seconds to complete, AAA says:
“When driving at 25 mph, a driver can travel the length of four football fields during the time it could take to enter a destination in navigation — all while distracted from the important task of driving.”
AAA notes that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your risk of crashing.
4. Infotainment systems
The report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety also found that several aspects of infotainment systems can increase your risk when driving.
The study asked participants to use voice commands, touch screens and other interactive technologies to engage in several activities while driving, including:
- Making a call
- Sending a text message
- Tuning the radio
Of 30 infotainment systems tested, 23 systems generated high or very high levels of demand on drivers’ attention. AAA notes that 1 in 3 drivers now use such systems while driving and concludes:
“Researchers found that most infotainment systems tested could easily be made safer by simply following clearly stated federal recommendations such as locking out text messaging, social media and programming navigation while the car is in motion.”