Technology in the automobile industry has come a long way. Seattle residents now have cars with infotainment systems, lane-assist and adaptive cruise control — features meant to make the vehicles more attractive to buyers and safer to drive. However, does this technology truly prevent distracted driving?
According to a study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, while adaptive cruise control and lane-assist features may increase safety when used in their intended manner, too many motorists put to much faith in these features or do not understand them completely. This leads to improper use and inattentive driving.
For example, adaptive cruise control is meant to ensure the vehicle does not follow too closely to other vehicles by automatically speeding up or slowing down the vehicle. Lane-assist detects when the vehicle is drifting into another lane, and gently moves the steering wheel in the correct direction. However, for both features to be used as intended, motorists are expected to be attentive and not let go of the steering wheel.
Unfortunately, according to the study, motorists aren’t doing this, and those who have these advanced features are more apt to drive distracted compared to motorists driving vehicles without these features. A 2017 study by AAA also found that infotainment systems in newer vehicles also cause distracted driving. This could lead to car accidents that cause injuries or even fatalities.
Distracted driving is a major issue. Motorists have a legal duty to drive reasonably under the circumstances. If this duty is breached because a driver is not paying attention to the road or is engaging in other activities while behind the wheel, it is possible that they could cause a car crash. If that car crash injures or kills another person, the at-fault motorist may be held responsible for the damages they caused. In the end, no safety feature is a replacement for paying attention to the task of driving.