AAA: most drivers depend too much on safety tech

There's a good chance that many West Virginia residents with driver assistance systems in their vehicles are relying too much on them to stay safe. As a result, they may be putting themselves and others at risk. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has called attention to this fact in a report, and some of its statistics are alarming.

A total of 29 percent of drivers with adaptive cruise control, for instance, say that they are comfortable engaging in other activities behind the wheel. More than 40 percent of those with automatic emergency braking and forward-collision warnings cannot differentiate the two technologies.

Perhaps the worst trend of all involves blind-spot monitoring systems. A whopping 80 percent of drivers overestimate the ability of these systems to detect fast-approaching vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians while 25 percent put so much trust in them that they never check for oncoming vehicles when changing lanes.

AAA believes that automakers, dealers and rental car companies are not doing enough to educate customers about the limitations of these safety features. The organization also believes that the way they are marketed has misled many people.

Despite these troubling statistics, driver assistance systems can reduce the number of car accidents by 40 percent and accident fatalities by 30 percent. The only question is whether drivers can adapt to semiautonomous vehicles, which will require driver input from time to time.

When safety tech does not prevent a car accident, the victim will want to know what caused it. If it becomes clear that the driver was negligent, the victim may be able to file a claim and be covered for medical expenses, lost wages, vehicle damage and anything else that applies. It will likely take a lawyer, though, to negotiate for the settlement because the other party's auto insurance company will be aggressive in denying the claim.

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