New high-tech safety features for vehicles are released every year. But a new survey conducted by Esurance is showing how some of the most technologically advanced cars and systems meant to keep us safe are actually setting us up to drive more poorly than we were before.
The Dangers of High-Tech Car Safety
If you are distracted, fatigued, impaired, or aggressive behind the wheel, your chances of getting into an accident causing injuries or fatalities greatly increases. The wave of semi-autonomous cars anticipated to hit the roads in the next few years is hoping to prevent some of the accidents caused by driver error but even these new vehicles are lacking in effective safety features. According to an article published by ABC News, a number of new products were revealed last week at the Consumers Electronics Show in Las Vegas to help fill the gaps in safety technology regarding semi-autonomous vehicles. While some of these new gadgets are making drivers more aware and alert, others are having the opposite effect.
When examining distracted driving trends between drivers with high-tech cars and drivers without, 21% of the drivers with advanced safety features admit to often being distracted and 43% admitted to being occasionally distracted. In the group of drivers without the high-tech safety features, only 16% reported being distracted often behind the wheel while 39% reported to being distracted occasionally. Additionally, nearly 30% of semi-autonomous car drivers in the study believed the new alerts, lights, and beeping noises were more of a distraction than a safety feature, and one in four drivers reported they disabled as a result.
Is Safety Technology Causing More Distractions?
Distracted driving has gone up in our country immensely in the last decade, particularly since the smartphone boom. Over 3,450 deaths were caused by distracted driving accidents in 2016 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and with these numbers continuing to rise since. The Esurance survey revealed over 58% of drivers admit to being distracted when driving. Participants of the survey listed these as the most common distractions taking their eyes off the road:
- browsing apps (92%)
- texting or emailing (91%)
- talking on the phone (54%)
- viewing GPS navigation (47%)
- eating (39%)
- changing music (30%)
- in-car warning sounds (29%)
- talking to passengers (21%)
Most of these distractions were no surprise. However, the one that sticks out the most could be a major problem when it comes to the advancement of high-tech safety features: in-car warning sounds. These safety features meant to increase driver alertness seem to be having the opposite effect and some of the new features are more distracting than others.
Newest Features Posing Concerns
We know that consumers are looking for safer cars but not everyone is looking for a vehicle that drives itself, monitors their every move, and sounds the alarm every time they check the kids. According to the ABC article, these are some of the high-tech safety features that motorists believe are hindering their driving the most:
- too many controls on the steering wheel
- cameras that alert drivers when they take hands off the wheel, look to the back seat or appear to be distracted based on the sensors
- voice activation devices that don’t work
- seat belt alerts that go off when items are on passenger seats
- bright lights, loud beeping and other alerts that distract drivers
Another recent driving accessory that is bound to cause issues on the road is a device that drivers can use to communicate with the cars behind them using an app on their phone. Although made with good intentions in mind, this high-tech device could ultimately lead to fender benders and more distracted driving accidents from people on their phone and drivers paying attention to the emojis on the car in front of them instead of the brake lights.
Are Drivers Putting Too Much Trust In Technology
At least 54% of motorists are actually in support of high-tech safety features according to the ABC article, reporting it makes them better drivers on the road. Millennials are learning to drive with these features from the beginning, so there is less of a learning curve to get used to. However, some experts believe that familiarity with new safety technology could also have a negative effect. When evaluating new features in a variety of vehicles, AAA found that drivers are becoming overly dependent on them. Instead of keeping drivers safe, these features are providing a false sense of safety and creating the idea that with self-driving cars, drivers don’t have to stay alert to the road anymore.
How To Reduce Distractions
Regardless of what the future holds for self-driving cars and the safety features they come with, drivers around the country need to start focusing less on how to avoid staying alert and more on paying attention to the road. Esurance lists a number of ways drivers can reduce accidents by decreasing distractions behind the wheel, such as:
- avoiding the use of electronic devices when driving
- setting the GPS before you begin driving
- storing your phone away from arms reach
- pulling over when attending to distractions such as phone calls and passengers
- avoid eating and drinking when driving, especially on busy roads
If you or a loved one has been injured in an automobile accident, our knowledgeable team of personal injury attorneys is here to fight back for your rights to safe roads. Call the law firm of Jacobs & Wallace today for a free case evaluation to review your options for seeking justice.