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Hi-tech safety systems linked to increased driver distraction

Florida residents who are in the market for a new car have a wealth of choices, and many of the vehicles in dealer showrooms come equipped with innovative safety features that are designed to prevent rather than survive accidents. However, a study released recently by the American Automobile Association raises questions about just how effective semiautonomous car safety systems really are. The AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety, studied videos of drivers behind the wheels of cars equipped with adaptive cruise control and lane departure assist systems, and they concluded that these features could actually be causing accidents.

Television commercials for new cars often laud the benefits of the latest safety features, and that may be contributing to the problem. AAA researchers noticed that drivers were about twice as likely to become distracted when adaptive cruise control and automatic lane departure systems were engaged, and they concluded it was because they overestimated the capabilities of the technology. The study urges auto manufacturers to tone down their advertising and focus more on reminding drivers to remain alert and keep their hands on the steering wheel at all times.

University of Utah researchers reached similar conclusions in 2017 when they watched drivers using automobile infotainment systems with touch-screen displays. These systems have become extremely popular in recent years. Distraction was rated either high or very high on 23 of the 30 systems tested. The remaining seven systems were rated moderately distracting.

Features like adaptive cruise control and lane departure assist monitor traffic conditions and store information on hard drives under the hood. Experienced personal injury attorneys may use this data in court to establish negligence by showing that drivers were not paying attention when they were involved in car accidents. Attorneys could also look for evidence of distraction by using subpoenas to obtain wireless service records.

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