Tampa residents may be too trusting of auto safety features

Many of the newest vehicles on the market boast of state-of-the-art safety features that are supposed to make both occupants of the vehicle and those with whom they share the road safer.

However, a new study suggests that people can be a little too trusting, and at the same time uninformed, about what these safety features will and will not do.

For instance, many new model cars are equipped with a feature that checks blind spots for the driver and will warn the driver if there is an unseen vehicle near the car. While this is certainly valuable information, almost 4 out of 5 drivers asked did not realize that it would only pick up a full-sized vehicle that was lingering in the blind spot. A car whizzing by, a bicycle or a pedestrian could easily be missed.

Likewise, almost 4 out of 10 drivers were not exactly sure of the difference between automatic braking and a forward collision warning system or were confused about how these features worked.

As the name implies, forward collision warning systems are designed only to warn drivers of an impending crash, but the driver must be the one to take evasive action. Automatic braking, on the other hand, will stop a car to avoid a collision. One concern is that a driver could think his or her car would prevent a collision automatically and thus not respond to a warning.

Simply put, although this new technology is, collectively, an extremely helpful safety tool, it is no substitute for safe and careful driving. Tampa drivers should continue to pay utmost attention to their driving, even if their car has advanced safety features. If they do not do so and cause a car accident as a result, they may be held financially accountable for their carelessness.

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