Gibbs & Fuerst, LLP

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Without training, drivers may be confused by new car safety tech

Drivers in California and across the U.S. may be looking forward to the advent of self-driving cars. However, many people overestimate the abilities of current vehicle safety technology. The Journal of Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making has published a discussion between a professor of cognitive sciences and a NASA scientist on the way that drivers interact with car safety tech. It appears that a lack of training is creating confusion.

In particular, drivers do not understand the limitations of car safety tech, and not everyone will take the time to read through an owner's manual. Therefore, switching to a car with semi-automated technology, especially a rental car, will not always be smooth.

In a recent survey, 11% of respondents thought that semi-automated technology allowed them to use their phone, read or engage in some other activity while behind the wheel. About half of all new vehicles being manufactured are semi-automated, so this confusing of semi-automated cars with fully automated cars may only lead to more and more accidents.

Car safety tech includes automatic emergency braking (set to be a standard component on all new vehicles by 2022), adaptive cruise control and blind spot cameras. These all have their shortcomings. For example, rear-facing cameras often fail to detect children and small objects.

Safety tech does not take away a driver's responsibility to maintain control of their vehicle. If a driver crashes because they were distracted, then they could be held liable. Someone who incurs an injury may be able to seek compensation for their medical expenses, pain and suffering and other losses. This means filing a personal injury claim against the negligent driver's auto insurance company. An attorney could help with this process.

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