Human error is the main culprit for a majority of car accidents in the country. It’s not exactly surprising that after millions of years of evolution, we humans haven’t perfected the act of driving a big piece of machinery while we share the road with other machines, which is what we do every day with cars.
Advances in automotive technology can keep us safe in our vehicles, particularly during emergencies, just like seatbelts, airbags, and hands-free calls did. But are some of these advancements too much, too fast?
Engineers are well-intentioned when they invent new and improved features for our cars, called advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). Still, there’s growing evidence that these new technologies might do more harm than good in the short term or without proper education.
We’ll address five main reasons why you, as a driver, should consider the limitations of your vehicle’s tech.
The 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Depend on Car Tech
Take a look at some of the reasons why it might be dangerous to let the ADAS do almost all the work for you while driving:
1. Vehicle Safety Tech Can’t Do It All.
The main lesson for drivers when it comes to advanced driver assistance is to use them only as a supplement to all other safety precautions. It’s a guardrail, not a crutch. You will be tempted to depend on the rear-view camera, the lane-keeping assistance, the blind spot warning, and even the self-parking function, but that tech is still limited and can’t compensate in the way simply turning your head or looking in your mirrors can.
Blind-spot sensors or approaching car alarms, for example, only warn you about fast-moving vehicles on either side of your car. They don’t warn you about other objects like bicycles, posts, animals, pedestrians, etc. And it doesn’t cover your blind spot completely.
2. Driver Assistance Can be Distracting
Around 10% of drivers, according to a recent survey by Esurance, said they get distracted by the assisted driving tech in their cars. Even more, 30% said the alarms from the systems could be distracting at times, with one in four drivers actually deactivating said alarms or warning systems.
It’s no surprise then, that the number of road accidents in the United States has risen since the mid-2000s when these advances started to appear in automobiles (along with dashboard screens.) Specifically, accidents classified as being caused by distracted driving have also been growing.
The new technology in cars is popular, but automakers struggle with finding a balance between consumers wanting more features and those features not distracting them. They can’t control the human element.
Studies have also found some ironic data about new technology like hands-free, voice commands, and other interactive features. They’re implemented with the goal of not being visually or cognitively demanding for the driver, but the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says they might be having the opposite effect. These features unintentionally give motorists a false sense of security behind the wheel, thinking they can multitask now that all they have to do is talk to devices and push a button once or twice.
One effect of this is that carmakers are now disabling certain functions from infotainment and safety tech while the car is moving. For example, most vehicles will not allow you to dial a number on the screen while driving or pair a device.
3. Too Many Drivers Don’t Know How Their Car Tech Works
One AAA study from 2018 found an alarming stat: 40% of those surveyed believed, incorrectly, that the forward collision warning system found in many new cars would make the vehicle brake automatically. This is not true for most cars and is a feature in some that are available only after paying an extra fee.
It also found drivers erroneously assumed their blind spot alarm detects “everything,” including pedestrians and cyclists. In reality, blind spot monitoring systems only see fast-moving cars on the road to your side.
The issue here is that car owners and drivers don’t take the time to learn the limitations of their safety systems. Operating a huge, fast-moving machine on the road without knowing what it can and can’t do is a recipe for disaster. Make sure you don’t have any doubt about how the safety features work.
4. Car Technology Is Not There Yet
People have to understand that technology like self-driving cars is simply not ready, yet. Automakers are struggling to develop it, and some are focusing on more limited car capabilities, like self-parking or emergency braking. We’re not going to advocate for a totally analog future. Technology isn’t bad for society, but if it’s not well-understood or ready for showtime, you have to keep to the basics and drive without depending on ADAS too much.
5. Drivers Become Too Dependent On Assisted Driving
Because self-driving cars are still not completely foolproof or even viable yet, drivers are in danger of forgetting even basic driving skills necessary to avoid accidents. Younger drivers are especially in danger of this, forgetting to turn their heads to check blind spots or thinking there’s going to be a beep or light that will alert them to an object they’re about to bump into. One notable problem that has arisen with the advent of GPS and Google Maps directions is that drivers forget these devices don’t know which lanes you’re on or how many cars are exactly between you and the exit on a highway. They fail to think for themselves anymore and can cause accidents when desperately trying to follow directions.
A recent 2021 study by Aceable, which provides online driver education courses, found that 61% of drivers now feel comfortable enough to take their eyes off the road for a brief moment, believing their car’s safety features will protect and alert them in time. Big mistake and another 58% said they don’t check around for other vehicles and pedestrians anymore thanks to their sensors and cameras.
While a lot of these features are a great aid to driving, they’re only that: an aid, or backup. Always drive as if you didn’t have them rather than rely on them to save your life.
Lessons About Driving With Technology
None of these reasons are meant to scare you into getting a car with non of the modern amenities or features most new models come with. All that’s needed is an effort to not become completely reliant on your car’s high-tech tools, be aware of their limitations, and use them in tandem with the same driving techniques we all grew up learning and still have to use.
A lot of these advancements have helped reduce certain types of accidents. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has said that forward collision warnings and automatic emergency braking, when employed correctly, have helped reduce accidents. But they’ve also found that some warning sounds, like lane departure alarms, are more of a nuisance than a help, so most drivers turn that off.
Also, learn everything there is to know about the available technology in your new car by reading the owner’s manual, asking questions at the dealership when test driving, or even watching online videos.
Finally, remember that at the end of the day, and legally, you are responsible for all aspects of driving, unless there’s a malfunction with any of the features or mechanisms in your car. Even if it’s not you hitting the brakes anymore, you’re responsible for navigating the vehicle on the road and among the traffic.
Ticket Snipers wants you to be safe out there! We hope this has helped you understand the reasons why you shouldn’t rely on your car’s technology. On the other hand, if you ever have a traffic ticket issue after using any of your car’s advanced features, call our team at Ticket Snipers and let our legal experts take over your situation and free you from stress!