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AAA Study: Many Drivers Misuse, Misunderstand Safety Tech

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Advanced driver-assist features and safety technology

Lane-departure warning technology was featured in the 2016 Buick LaCrosse

Large majorities of drivers like their vehicles’ advanced driver-assist features. But many don’t understand these technologies or know how to use them properly.

That’s according to a recent study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. To arrive at these conclusions, the foundation examined data provided by 1,212 owners of selected 2016 and 2017 vehicles.

The driver-assist features covered by the survey are designed to improve safety by issuing warnings to drivers and taking over vehicle functions in emergency situations. These systems include  include lane-keeping assist, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking.

The survey found that at least two out of three respondents trust the driver-assist technology in their vehicles, and more than 75% find it useful. About 70% of respondents would recommend the technology to others and would prefer to have it in the next vehicle they buy, too.

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Advanced driver-assist features and safety technology

Many drivers don’t pay proper attention when a vehicle’s adaptive cruise control is turned on
Photo: GamblinMotors

At the same time, respondents weren’t always in the know about these technologies. For example, 21% weren’t aware that blind-spot monitoring may not be able to detect vehicles traveling at high speeds. And 33% didn’t realize that dirt or snow could block the sensors used to trigger automatic emergency braking systems.

Sometimes, drivers also rely on these technologies in unsafe ways. 30% of respondents with blind-spot monitoring sometimes change lanes without checking the surrounding area for themselves. 25% with rear cross-traffic alert don’t check for themselves before backing up. And 29% don’t pay full attention when using adaptive cruise control.

According to the AAA, while these technologies could seriously improve safety on the road, the human element is also key. For advanced driver-assist features to be fully effective, drivers will have to commit to learning and understanding these technologies instead of using them as an excuse for inattention behind the wheel.

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News Source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (fact sheet and full report)