Youâ€™ve seen the commercials showcasing state-of-the-art new cars with built-in safety systems â€“ but do they really keep us safe?
As it turns out, both lane-keeping systems, some of which even nudge the vehicle back into its lane for the driver, and blind-spot monitoring systems had lower crash rates than the same vehicles without the systems, the Associated Press reported.
Lane-keeping systems lowered rates of single-vehicle, sideswipe and head-on crashes of all severities by 11 percent, and crashes of those types in which there were injuries, by 21 percent, a study of data from 25 states found. Researchers say the technology cut the fatal crash rate by 86 percent. If all passenger vehicles had been equipped with lane departure warning systems in 2015, an estimated 85,000 police-reported crashes would have been prevented, safety experts estimate.
A second study of blind-spot detection systems - usually warning lights in side mirrors - found the systems lower the rate of all lane-change crashes by 14 percent and the rate of such crashes with injuries by 23 percent. If all passenger vehicles were equipped with the systems, about 50,000 police-reported crashes a year could be prevented.
Too good to be true? Well, there is the human factor. Research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety raises concern that drivers may be less vigilant when relying on automated safety systems or become distracted by dashboard displays that monitor how the systems are performing.
AAA cautioned that it is â€ścritical that drivers understand the capabilities and, more importantly, the limitations of the safety technology in their vehicle before getting behind the wheel.â€ť
Bottom line: Use it but use it wisely!