In New Mexico and across the United States, it seems that everyone -- young, old and in between -- has a cellphone. Not only do they own one, but also use it incessantly, even behind the wheel. While being a distracted driver is generally linked to the prevalence of cellphone use, it is not the only way for people to be distracted behind the wheel. Because distracted driving is known to be so dangerous and can cause a car collision with injuries and fatalities, it is important to understand other distractions as well.
A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that safety systems in newer vehicles can be a distraction for drivers. These advancements are becoming more popular, making it a growing risk that an auto accident will happen due to this issue.
AAA found that people who have vehicles with these advancements, while being safer themselves, are also prone to lower their guard and feel a false sense of security, putting others at risk. The researchers note a difference between how these innovations are meant to be used and their unexpected affects.
Two technological safety features specifically mentioned were adaptive cruise control and lane-assist. Commonly found in higher-end vehicles, like Tesla, they are rapidly becoming more popular. With adaptive cruise control, a reasonable distance between the vehicle and other vehicles on the road is maintained without the driver needing to do anything.
Lane-assist senses when a vehicle is drifting into other lanes and gently moves the steering wheel to bring it into its own lane. Drivers who have vehicles with these advancements might lose their focus. Manufacturers emphasize that drivers must remain alert. If a driver believes he or she can multitask because of these safety innovations, it can spark a collision.
The systems are not placing people in jeopardy. People who are at the controls and think they are basically on autopilot can end up having an accident because of their misplaced interpretation and lack of vigilance. Any type of automobile accident can cause injuries and fatalities. Distracted driver crashes are among the most common today, but this research indicates that there is more to it than the reflexive reaction that a driver was texting or surfing on a smartphone.