Does Technology Really Make Your Vehicle Safer?

 

As automobile drivers, we live in a truly amazing time. From auto-brake systems to lane sensors to rear-view assist cameras, driving in the 21st Century is driving in an age of wonders. And with the promise of self-driving cars becoming ubiquitous in the near future, what was once fantasy in television shows like “Knight Rider” is rapidly becoming a day-to-day reality.

rear view camera technologyAnd, for the most part, these new technologies do make driving noticeably safer and easier. That being said, it also makes it tempting to believe that all of your driving duties are being done for you. This is not the case! Driving assistance technologies are supposed to do just that: assist. Tooling along the Treasure Coast roads, you still need to pay attention and be aware when you’re behind the wheel. 

If you get in an accident, it is important to know your rights and understand what role assistive driver safety technology is and isn’t supposed to do. Should you have the need for a qualified car accident attorney, don’t hesitate to get one. Even in this futuristic age, the old adage of an “ounce of prevention” is important to keep in mind.

What Are Some Examples of Technology Making Cars Safer?

It’s amazing to think that less than 50 years ago, examples of “advanced technology” in cars might mean power windows, AM/FM radio, and air conditioning. At one point, a two-speed automatic transmission was considered state of the art. 

But, like with almost everything from computers to refrigerators, what’s available today has made huge jumps in advancement. Some examples include:

Rearview Video Systems (RVS) 

Perhaps the most familiar technological advance is rearview video systems, often called a “backup camera”. In 2008, the U.S. Congress passed a law requiring updated safety technology in all new automobiles sold. As of 2018, all new cars sold in the United States are required by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Association to have RVS installed. 

Essentially, this technology causes a camera to activate when the car is put in reverse, giving the driver an extra video displayed in their dash showing what’s going behind the automobile while they are backing up. This helps alleviate the issue of the “blind spot” inherent in cars, but it doesn’t eliminate it. Some variations include servo motors to adjust cameras for larger vehicles as well as audio intercoms, and night-vision cameras.

Lane Assists and Blind-Spot Sensors 

Many new cars have a number of sensor devices that help the car navigate lane changes while driving at highway speeds. Some alert the driver when cars pass through their blind spots in other lanes, while others give a warning if the driver drifts out of their lane without first signaling. Much like RVS devices, some cars have cameras that even offer views of blind spots when passing.

Automatic Emergency Braking 

These devices use sensors to anticipate a collision ahead and automatically engage a car’s brakes when it is imminent. Different types are available for different situations — from accidents on the highway to pedestrians at a crosswalk. The system will automatically engage the brakes if the driver hasn’t taken action while the distance closes.

Forward Collision Warning

Related to automatic emergency braking, these systems include sensors that notify the driver when they get too close to the car in front of them. However, it’s important to remember these are just warning sensors and do not take any control from the driver.

Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Capability 

Probably the most famous advancement in-car technology — and perhaps the most poorly understood by the public — are new advances in assisted driving championed by pioneering companies like Tesla. While most of the cars released by the company have the autopilot feature and possess the programming for full self-driving, the actual capability to navigate the road without any driver inputs is still far down the line. The key difference is that autopilot merely assists the driver, using a combination of systems above like traffic-aware cruise control, lane control, steering assistance, etc. FSD capability will include autosteering assist, automatic lane changing suggestions, and even controlled parking using a mobile app or key fob.

Driver Awareness Technology

Driving for long distances can be extremely tiring, and a driver can find themselves dozing off if they spend too much time behind the wheel. These technologies monitor the driver and offer alarms if it registers drowsiness in order to keep them alert or encourage them to pull over for a rest. The system can also be set to limit how much time someone can drive in one sitting.

Have These Technological Advances Made Driving Safer or More Dangerous?

Nearly 94% of all car accidents are due to human error.  According to a study by CARFAX, a company that records histories of used cars, 87% of drivers say they feel safer behind the wheel when they have driver assistance technologies. This is reflected in sales, with global sales of Advanced Driving Assistance Systems (ADAS) accounting for $27 billion in total revenues. Hard statistics back up the faith drivers have in ADAS, showing a 27% reduction in bodily injury claims and a 19% reduction in property damage claims.

When used properly, the driver assisting technologies can help drivers be more alert and aware when behind the wheel. However, the normal inclination for people to do anything but pay attention can be a serious problem when mixed with this technology. Drivers will let their guard down, or will mistakenly think they don’t need to drive at all. Having technology assist in changing lanes, for instance, may cause some drivers to think they can text on the cell phones. Similarly, over-reliance on the rear video system screen will cause someone to ignore everything else outside the screen’s purview.

Most notoriously, a number of accidents have involved Tesla drivers taking the “self-driving car” concept too literally. Several car accidents have resulted in death, as people assume the car can drive itself on autopilot, even though Tesla has said a number of times that drivers should keep their hands on the wheel at all times.

Technology Is Here To Help, Not Drive For You

When used appropriately, new driving technology will make driving safer, but it’s important to remember that it doesn’t mean a driver abdicates all responsibility for operating their vehicle. These technologies are meant to assist — not replace — the driver. And like every other part of an automobile, these new technologies can develop failures and glitches, especially if used in situations outside their intended purview. 

If technological failure or abuse has caused you an accident on Florida roads, having an experienced car accident attorney can be a life-saver. The attorneys at the firm of Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd, & Lloyd have the knowledge and experience to help you in court or with insurance companies. Give us at (866) 460-1990 or contact us online today for a free consultation.

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