Automakers are consistently adding safety technology to new models, such as correcting lane drift automatically, automatic breaking should sensors detect an imminent crash, cars that park themselves and features that alert a sleepy driver.
The technologies that were once onboard only on high-end vehicles are now making their way into low-cost models.
While the new safety features can reduce death and injury, and make driving safer, there is no movement to adequately train drivers on their use. The result is that the technology is switched off—eliminating the potential safety benefits.
The University of Iowa and the U.S. Department of Transportation are unveiling an education campaign to inform drivers how to use new safety features and offers a MyCarDoesWhat.org, complete with videos, to aid in the education process.
To prepare for the campaign, the University conducted a survey, with results showing the majority of uncertainty from drivers on how safety technologies work. Approximately 40% respondents reported that their vehicles took unexpected actions. One of the most confusing technologies reported in the survey was cruise control, which has been on the market for the past decade.
A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety involved early safety technology adopters. Results showed that some drivers thought the collision-warning system would apply the breaks to prevent an accident. The system instead alerts drivers to the possible collision so that the driver can step on the brake. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced in September that it has reached voluntary agreements with 10 automakers to make automatic braking standard in their cars, although there is no timeline yet.
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