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AAA study shows drivers overrate abilities of car safety tech

Automotive safety technologies continue to advance, and the positive effect they are having on car accident rates across the world is a real one. Their influence can, however, be overstated. A study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that many drivers in Florida and across the U.S. do not understand the key limitations of automotive safety features.

For example, 29 percent of drivers with adaptive cruise control say they feel comfortable "engaging in other activities" (that is, driving distracted) when it's on. Other drivers put a dangerous amount of confidence in blind-spot monitoring with 80 percent unaware of its limited ability to detect approaching cars, pedestrians and bicyclists. About 25 percent never look for oncoming vehicles when changing lanes.

In addition, few drivers can tell the difference between forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking. About 33 percent don't realize that the latter relies on cameras or sensors, which can be compromised through the build-up of dirt or snow.

The study has made many ambivalent about whether drivers can safely adapt to semi-autonomous vehicles, which still require some level of alertness behind the wheel. The fatal accident between an Uber vehicle and a pedestrian in Arizona is just one tragic example; the backup safety driver was not paying sufficient attention to the road.

Car safety tech does not excuse a driver from maintaining control over a vehicle, so if over-reliance on it leads to a car wreck, victims can hold the other party responsible. After filing a claim with their own insurance company, victims could file one with the other's insurance company to be covered for losses like medical expenses and lost wages. This is where a lawyer may be able to help by evaluating the case and having investigators gather proof. The lawyer might then negotiate for a fair settlement, litigating as a last resort.

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