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Misconceptions of driving technologies could increase accidents

By now, we have all seen the car commercials that portray something distracting the driver. Then, the advanced technology within the vehicle alerts the distracted driver to a hazard they do not see, such as the stopped car in front of them.

These driver assistance technologies are becoming more commonplace. Tesla is probably the most well-known manufacturer to implement these technologies, but many others have as well, including Nissan and Cadillac. 

But these commercials seem to mislead many drivers.

Driver assistance is not the same as autopilot

The Tesla Autopilot does not work the same as an airplane's autopilot does, despite the name. According to Pennsylvania's Ellwood City Ledger, most of the technologies like Tesla's Autopilot still need the driver to:

  • Keep their hands on the steering wheel
  • Drive attentively
  • Focus all of their attention on the road

These requirements contradict what many people might believe about driver assistance technologies. The article reported that drivers believed they could safely talk on the phone, text or even take a nap behind the wheel while using driver assistance like Autopilot. And that is simply not true.

This confusion could be due to the names the manufacturers choose for these technologies, but it might also be the result of improper advertising—such as the previously mentioned car commercial.

Technology is helpful—if drivers know how it works

Today's technology still requires drivers to focus on driving. It does not eliminate a driver's responsibilities to other drivers while they are on the road.

However, that is not to say that driver assistance technologies are not helping prevent accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that several driver assistance technologies help to reduce accidents, such as:

  • Forward collision warnings
  • Automatic emergency brakes
  • Back up cameras
  • Blind-spot sensors

These technologies do not replace the driver, but they do alert the driver to potential hazards. Essentially, as long as drivers understand how these technologies actually work, then they can use these technologies to increase their awareness of their surroundings.

Driver assistance technologies are not widespread yet or available to all Pennsylvania drivers. But many auto manufacturers aim to add these technologies to most of their products in the next few years. If drivers stay informed about these technologies, then it is possible they can help reduce the rate of dangerous auto accidents on our roads.

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