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Is Driver-Assist Technology Making You a Bad Driver?

Reliance upon driver-assist technologies might be undermining your driving skills and making you a distracted and unsafe driver.

Automakers are loading up cars with more and more “driver-assist” safety technology. But reliance and over-relianceAssistive Technology Crash - Is Driver-Assist Technology Making You a Bad Driver? - Altizer Law PC upon those very technologies might be undermining your driving skills. Over-reliance upon tech is also conducive to “zoning-out” while driving: becoming distracted and shifting your attention to matters other than driving. When we become distracted, we are much slower in responding to dangers and risks. When we rely too heavily upon driver-assist technology, we risk loss of skill and response time, as well as the possible failure of the technology itself. The result will be more crashes on our highways and byways.

These risks are becoming a major concern of both automakers and insurance companies. An article published in The Insurance Journal a few days ago characterizes the auto industry as “terrified” by the undesired side effects of the new assistive technologies. The journal also reports that automakers are “scrambling to find ways to keep drivers engaged rather than glued to their smartphones.”*

Roadway deaths in the U.S. increased by 14% over the last two years, according to the article in Insurance Journal. Although there are clearly a number of other contributing factors, the number of “distracted drivers” is a factor in this increase. It should be noted that smartphone use is not the only cause of distracted driving.

A critical concern with regard to driver-assist technologies is that drivers become increasingly dependent upon the technology. One example is the tendency to test the blind spot detection capability rather than looking over one’s shoulder before changing lanes. This behavior has been documented already. The more we use and trust these technologies, the less we utilize our driving skills. Eventually, according to some in the industry, we will trust the technology more than we trust ourselves in an emergency.

An area of great concern should be those technologies that allow drivers to remove their hands from the steering wheel for up to 15 seconds before they are reminded to take the wheel again. Many believe that if you take your hands off the wheel for 15 seconds, you are doing something else that is winning your attention.

Complicating the issue for drivers is the lack of clear knowledge of what the technologies will and will not do. Automakers are driven to compete by offering better and better driver-assist technologies to remain competitive in the market. These systems have different names and different capabilities. Drivers often do not understand that similar systems made by different manufacturers will perform differently and within different parameters. Driving another car, then, writes prescription for disaster when a driver has become overly reliant upon driver-assist devices.

Today, there is no simple solution to the conundrum of how the driver-assist technology can make driving easier and safer without lulling drivers into complacence or distraction and making it more dangerous instead. In time, guidelines will emerge. For now, however, it is up to you to manage driver-assist technology responsibly.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash caused by a distracted driver, overly-reliant upon technology who failed to control his or her vehicle, call us. The trusted attorneys of Altizer Law, P.C., represent our clients regardless of the misdeeds and the types of negligence that cause highway car and truck crashes. Our clients know that we fight relentlessly to protect their rights and ensure that justice is done.