Study proves why drivers shouldn't grow overly reliant on in-vehicle warning systems

In recent years, car makers have increasingly relied upon technology systems and devices to aid in preventing car accidents and preventing vehicle occupants who are involved in accidents from suffering severe or fatal injuries. A recent study by the American Automobile Association looked at the usability and overall effectiveness of two accident prevention systems that are readily available in many new vehicles.

AAA reports that roughly 75 percent of new vehicles sold in the U.S. offer blind spot detection systems as an option to consumers. Additionally, 50 percent of new vehicles also come equipped with lane departure warning systems. While not standard in all new vehicles, a significant percentage of U.S. drivers are or will soon be driving vehicles equipped with one or both of these safety features and the general usability and function of these types of systems can significantly impact the overall safety of all drivers and passengers.

While the overall purpose of lane departure warning systems and blind spot monitoring systems are to alert drivers when faced with potentially dangerous driving scenarios, AAA discovered wide variances in the performance of different systems.

For example, some blind spot monitor systems were able to detect another vehicle as it was approaching a driver's blind spot. Other systems, however, only alerted a driver to another vehicle's presence after the vehicle was already in a driver's blind spot. Additionally, some systems had difficulty tracking motorcycles and fast-moving vehicles.

Upon testing lane departure warning systems, AAA discovered the systems are prone to functioning errors when traffic lanes are worn or obstructed. Additionally, the systems also alerted drivers when no lane departure had occurred. False alerts were especially prevalent at intersections and when traveling through road construction zones.

While the findings of the AAA study indicate adjustments and improvements in how the systems work and how drivers are alerted are necessary, AAA notes the systems are still useful in helping prevent accidents. This study, however, serves as a reminder to all drivers to remain alert and vigilant while driving and to only use these types of warning systems for secondary confirmation.

Source: Cars.com, "Study: AAA Finds Safety Systems Still Have Kinks," Kristin Varela, Dec. 9, 2014

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