High-tech features and advanced driver assistance systems are becoming more readily available, and they have the potential to reduce the rates of crashes, fatalities and injuries on the nation’s roadways.
Consider, for example, back-up cameras. Approximately 300 people lose their lives and another 18,000 suffer injuries every year due to back-over accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Today, all new cars must be equipped with rear-view cameras. NHTSA believes this simple, but safe, technology has the potential to greatly reduce back-over accidents.
However, certain technologies such as automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning, to name a few, are not yet standard in all vehicles. Moreover, though they are safety features, research shows that these technologies also present certain risks, including drivers ignorance of the limitations of specific technologies.
It's a smart idea to review the latest high-tech features with your drivers. Make assure they understand the function of each as well as the benefits and the risks. Experts share the following advice to help your drivers maximize the safety benefits:
Understand the Functionality
Drivers should take the time to read about and physically experience each safety feature in his or her vehicle. It’s important for drivers to know how the technology works, so there are no surprises once they are out on the road.
Beware of Limitations
Lack of awareness of the key limitations of any given safety feature can actually put a driver at risk. Consider the following research findings from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety:
- Only 21% of owners of vehicles with blind spot monitoring systems correctly identified inability to detect vehicles passing at very high speeds as a limitation of the system; the remainder expressed various other misconceptions about its function or reported that they were unsure of the system’s limitations.
- 33% of owners of vehicles with automatic emergency braking systems did not realize that the system relied on cameras or sensors that could be blocked by dirt, ice, or snow.
Over-Reliance on Technology
Though advanced vehicle technologies can be lifesavers, drivers need to be reminded not to rely on them too heavily. It’s easy to get lazy and fall into bad habits. Remind your drivers of the following:
- When using adaptive cruise control don’t get so comfortable that you begin to engage in other activities while behind the wheel. Distracted driving is always a safety risk.
- When using blind spot monitoring, it’s still critical to visually check your blind spot when changing lanes. Don't become over-reliant on the technology.
- The same applies to rear cross-traffic alert systems. Despite the technology, before backing up drivers should always look over their shoulder.
Advanced vehicle technologies hold much promise for making driving a safer experience. However, that potential will only be fully realized when drivers understand how to use them, use them as intended, and avoid misusing or becoming over-reliant on them.