Whether on crowded city streets or fast-moving highways, drivers must pay special attention to their environments to stay safe. Technological advances and computer enhancements over the last two decades have meant that motor vehicles come equipped with exciting new safety features with nearly every iteration. Unfortunately, while programmers designed those features to keep people safe, they often give drivers opportunities to make mistakes.
While the differences range based on the type of vehicles, add-on package and the roadway, safety features can make even a simple trip more dangerous.
- Visual distractions: One enhancement that seems like it came directly from science fiction movies is the head-up display. Often simply called the HUD, this refers to a set of data the vehicle projects into the driver’s field of vision. In essence, the driver’s head is always up, looking directly ahead. With information such as speed limit, tire pressure and map directions in view, the driver need never look down at the instrument panel. Unfortunately, more information is added with each technical iteration. Weather forecasts, cabin temperature, audio information – this data can quickly overwhelm the driver’s attention and lead to a severe visual distraction.
- Misunderstanding limitations: Advance driver assistance systems (ADAS) are in place for just that purpose – to assist the driver. Unfortunately, many drivers assume too much of the various systems and rely on the vehicle itself to keep them safe. Programmers design these systems as early warning features and the driver must still perform an action to remain safe. Unfortunately, many drivers see an ADAS as a license to make phone calls, eat lunch or read email when they should be watching the road.
- Misunderstanding the systems themselves: It is not uncommon for drivers to attribute certain features to a safety system that does not exist. For example, many drivers assume that the collision detection system in their vehicles will also apply the brakes to keep the driver safe. Generally, that system only provides a warning and takes no active action. Drivers must fully understand both active and passive safety systems in their vehicles.
Depending on numerous features, motor vehicle collisions can have devastating consequences. From broken bones and head trauma to paralysis and amputation, a serious collision could even result in fatality.