22 August

Are Smarter Cars Contributing To Road Accidents?

Smart cars with state-of-the-art safety features have become the norm. From cruise control to lane assist technology and traffic sign recognition systems, there has never been a safer time to drive cars than today. These systems are intuitive enough to stop major accidents from happening.

For instance, BMW’s Evasion Aid protects cars from colliding with stopped or slowed traffic. Even better, companies like Tesla are working on completely autonomous vehicles. Despite today seeming like the dawn of safety-centric vehicles, the fact that accidents are still plaguing today’s society is confusing. Which begs the question, who or what is to blame for the accidents?

Here is why road accidents are still a major problem despite car safety features being a norm: 

Driver Complacency Is a Major Issue

Before autonomous safety systems were installed in vehicles, drivers were still driving while distracted. In fact, 94-96% of motor vehicles crashes stem from human error, according to Digital Trends. While some drivers were texting while driving, others would video chat or even make calls on their phones. In some cases, some drivers would engage in deep conversations with their passengers, often taking their eyes off the road.

Sadly, it takes less than a second of being inattentive to get involved in an accident. Add safety systems into the mix, and the problem intensifies. Why? Drivers now know that they can rely on their vehicles to improve their safety. Even after taking safety driving lessons that warn against distracted driving, these safety features can be a cushion for most drivers.

In their minds, they can always rely on the lane assist systems to get them back on their lanes if they drift off the road. Automatic braking systems can ‘always’ come to their rescue whenever something unexpected happens on the road ahead. If you’re a new driver with a dream to own and drive today’s latest cars, you should consider enrolling for an intensive driving course that offers loads of daily driving so you can be better equipped to avoid potential accidents.  

Marketing Approaches Also Share the Blame

The way car companies market their safety features also plays a significant role in road accident problems. Think about Tesla’s Autopilot. While the company itself has repeatedly warned drivers against being disengaged, the name of their system offers a different message. For some drivers, the term Autopilot gives them the idea that they can sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

This also trickles down to how safety ads are created. They offer enough confidence that customers can rely on the systems whenever they are on the road. Sure, these safety features do make cars safe, but they aren’t completely infallible. 

Safety Features Are Barely Fully Automated

While today’s safety features have prevented their own share of road accidents, they are far from being fully automated. The Society of Automotive Engineers ranks car safety features using six levels, level 0 to level 5. Level 0 has no automation whatsoever, and level 5 is fully automated. Most of today’s safety features lie at level 2.

Although they might improve safety, they still need the intervention of the driver to be effective enough. For vehicles can become fully automated (level 5), the world needs more tech advances.

In fact, companies like Waymo have fully committed to designing autonomous systems that lie on level 4 and 5, requiring no human intervention. The company made this choice after learning that drivers were over-relying on their safety systems despite being in situations that needed human intervention.

Drivers Should Treat Safety Systems as an Add-On

Instead of leaving their vehicles under the control of safety systems, drivers should treat them as nothing more than an assistant. They should have their eyes glued to the road while controlling their vehicles. To prevent distraction, they should place their phones in the glove compartment, ask passengers to handle calls and texts, avoid drunk driving and program phones to reply texts automatically while on the road. If possible, the driver should also use gadgets that limit distracted driving on their vehicles.

Conclusion

Safety features on vehicles are meant to make roads safer. However, today’s systems aren’t advanced enough to put drivers in comfort zones. As long as drivers can buy vehicles with safety features and focus on driving, road accidents will reduce tremendously.