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Are Vehicle Safety Features Really Working?

There are things you need to know and should do after a car accident in Dallas.Automakers have introduced a wide variety of safety features in newer vehicles to provide a more enjoyable driving experience and protect drivers and passengers and others sharing the road. However, a recent study by the automotive group AAA says that some of the latest automated driving assistance features might be interfering with drivers.

What Are Some Current Vehicle Safety Features?

While manufacturers are a long way from mass producing fully self-driving cars, they are adding a variety of safety features to their vehicles that assist drivers.

In addition to basic safety features, such as seat belts and airbags, some of the newer safety systems include sensors and cameras that help detect the situation around the car. The market for these Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) is expected to grow to $83 billion by 2030, according to business news reports.

Some of these semi-autonomous driving systems include:

  • Active driving assistance systems that automatically steer the car or sound an alarm if the vehicle veers outside of its lane
  • Backup cameras
  • Blind spot detection
  • Collision warning features, such as lights or beeps that alert drivers when they’re getting too close to vehicles or other obstacles
  • Steering assistance
  • Cross-traffic alerts
  • Rear- and forward-collision warning systems that activate emergency braking if a driver gets too close to something
  • Pedestrian detection systems
  • Automated parking assistance, where the car parallel parks itself
  • Road sign recognition
  • Adaptive cruise control

Accident Statistics Since Vehicle Safety Feature Introduction

Basic safety features have typically helped make driving much safer for people across the country. For example, lap and shoulder belts saved the lives of nearly 15,000 people in 2017 alone and could have saved over 2,500 more lives if the accident victims had been wearing seat belts, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In terms of newer safety systems, studies by LexisNexis Risk Solutions show that driving assistance features helped reduce traffic accident injuries by over 25 percent and reduced property damage rates by almost 20 percent. In addition, studies by Carnegie Mellon University estimate that vehicle crash avoidance systems help reduce the overall frequency of wrecks and could help save as much as $264 billion if all light-duty vehicles had these features.

Vehicles with blind-spot monitoring systems experienced 14 percent fewer crashes than those without this feature. The same research predicts that if every car sold in the U.S. in 2015 had this feature, it could have helped prevent 50,000 traffic accidents, as well as over 15,000 traffic injuries.

However, AAA researchers found that active driving assistance systems combining adaptive cruise control and lane keeping (the highest level of automated driving technology available to consumers today) perform poorly in real-world scenarios. The systems often disengage quickly and with little notice, leaving the driver to suddenly take full control of the vehicle.

Greg Brannon, director of automotive engineering for AAA, said that active driving assistance is intended to make roads safer. But he said that automotive researchers have repeatedly found that the systems do not perform as expected in real world situations. He said that manufacturers need to work toward developing more dependable lane-keeping technology and providing more adequate alerts.

AAA reported that issues with lane departure or erratic lane positions accounted for more than 70 percent of the errors that researchers recorded in tests on public roadways.

Furthermore, the systems performed poorly when they were tested on a closed course. When a test vehicle using active driving assistance encountered a simulated disabled vehicle on the roadside, a collision occurred 66 percent of the time, researchers said.

Some other problems arose when a car’s automated braking system detected a car in the next lane or the sides of a garage. The systems sometimes incorrectly assumed a collision was about to occur and slammed on the brakes or veered away from the other car. The systems’ actions could cause a rear-end collision or other type of collision.

Even when the alerts and warning lights work properly, they’re distracting for modern drivers who already have to deal with numerous distractions on the road. In addition, when these false alerts happen too often, drivers may be tempted to disable the safety features and therefore miss an actual danger in the future. Over 10 percent of drivers in a recent study reported they have turned off forward-collision warnings, and nearly 20 percent turned off automated emergency braking features.

These driving assistance systems are also quite expensive to repair. Even basic repairs to them can double a driver’s bill after a minor traffic accident, which might lead the driver to decide against fixing damaged or broken safety features.

To raise consumer confidence, AAA said it’s important that manufacturers improve the reliability of the automated driving assistance systems before making the systems widely available to the public.

Do Vehicle Safety Features Have an Impact on Fault Laws?

Under current laws, drivers still have primary responsibility for watching out for other cars and obstacles on the road and doing all they can to drive safely. Drivers with systems like collision avoidance and backup alerts often rely heavily on these features instead of using their own eyes, ears, and other senses to detect possible dangers.

Texas law defines the owner of a vehicle with an automated driving assistance as the vehicle’s operator, even when the driving assistance technology is in use. However, the vehicle manufacturer might also have some liability if an automobile defect causes an accident, such as if an automated driving system malfunctions.

How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You

If you have been in a car accident involving a vehicle with automated driving safety features, you should contact Kraft & Associates, P.C. to schedule your free case evaluation. Our experienced car accident attorneys can review the details of your accident and explain your options for seeking compensation if others were at fault. Our attorneys are prepared to handle all the details of your case. We’ll answer your questions, help determine your legal options, and help fight for your rights.

Contact us online or call us today at (214) 999-9999.


I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who has had the privilege of helping thousands of clients since 1971 in the areas of Personal Injury law, Social Security Disability, Elder Law, Medicaid Planning for Long Term Care, and VA Benefits.

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