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AAA study raises questions about auto safety systems

Road safety advocates say that sophisticated safety features like adaptive cruise control and emergency braking systems can prevent 4 out of 10 traffic accidents and reduce road deaths by as much as 30 percent. However, a recent study released by the American Automobile Association claims that this kind of technology could actually be making the nation's roads more dangerous. Researchers from the group's Foundation for Traffic Safety came to this conclusion after polling 1,200 drivers in Wisconsin and around the country who purchased new vehicles equipped with driver assistance systems in 2016 and 2017.

According to the AAA road safety study, technology designed to prevent accidents and save lives can pose a threat to other road users when drivers overestimate its capabilities and act recklessly as a result. The problem appears to be especially serious when cars are equipped with adaptive cruise control systems that speed up or slow down vehicles to keep pace with other traffic. A worrying 29 percent of the drivers polled admitted that they routinely look away from the road ahead and do other things when these systems are engaged.

The drivers who were surveyed were also unaware of many of the limitations of modern automobile safety systems. Only 21 percent of the respondents understood that blind-spot monitoring technology is not always reliable when tracking fast-approaching objects, and only 40 percent of the motorists polled realized that forward monitoring systems only warn drivers of dangerous situations and do not automatically apply their brakes.

While modern automobile safety systems may not always be able to prevent motor vehicle accidents, they can often reveal what took place in the moments before a collision. This is because they store information, such as whether drivers applied their brakes before crashing. This data could be used by experienced personal injury attorneys to establish liability in car accident lawsuits when motorists are not willing to take responsibility for their negligent actions.

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