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AAA study: drivers are too reliant on car safety tech

Drivers in Arizona, as in other states, may be relying too much on safety technology like blind-spot monitoring systems and adaptive cruise control. This trend has been the subject of a report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the results of which should be of interest to anyone with a driver assistance system.

AAA has found, for example, that 80 percent of drivers with blind-spot monitoring overestimate its ability to detect fast-approaching vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians. 20 percent never bother to look for oncoming vehicles when changing lanes. Over 40 percent of those with automatic emergency braking confuse it with forward-collision warning (the former takes action, while the latter gives the warning).

An overestimation of adaptive cruise control leads to distracted driving. According to the report, 29 percent said they are comfortable engaging in other activities when this feature is on. The results raise concerns about how drivers will adapt to semi-autonomous vehicles, which will, after all, require their input from time to time.

Misleading marketing may be partly to blame for this trend. AAA also points to dealers, automakers and rental-car companies in their failure to educate customers about the limitations of car safety tech. The benefits of safety tech are nonetheless real: federal estimates say it can reduce car crash rates by 40 percent and crash-related fatality rates by 30 percent.

When someone engages in distracted driving or some other negligent behavior under the influence of safety technology, he or she will be at fault for any accidents. Victims, for their part, may want to see a lawyer, who can explain this state's comparative negligence laws and evaluate the claim. Third parties like investigators and medical experts might come in to bolster the claim before the lawyer goes on to negotiations. If a settlement cannot be reached, the victim may opt to litigate.

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