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AAA: drivers are unaware of the limits of car safety tech

Missouri residents who have advanced driver assistance systems in their cars should know that they can backfire on them if they don't understand their limitations. A recent study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety addresses how drivers are overestimating their car safety features, and it raises questions about what will happen when semiautonomous vehicles become more common.

For example, 80 percent of drivers with blind-spot monitoring are not aware that it has a limited ability to detect cars, bicyclists and pedestrians when they are approaching quickly. In fact, 25 percent of drivers with this feature are so confident in it that they don't ever look for oncoming vehicles when switching lanes.

Adaptive cruise control carries an increased risk for distracted driving. Around 29 percent of the drivers who use this technology report feeling comfortable engaging in other activities behind the wheel when it is activated. AAA also found confusion as to what certain features do. More than 40 percent of the drivers cannot differentiate forward-collision warning from automatic emergency braking.

According to federal estimates, advanced car safety tech can prevent 40 percent of car crashes and 30 percent of crash-related deaths. It is critical that drivers remember that these features are meant to assist, not replace, them. AAA calls on automakers, dealers and rental car companies to do their part in educating their customers. It also says that misleading marketing may partly be to blame for the lack of understanding.

This lack of education, however, cannot excuse drivers who choose to be negligent behind the wheel. Under auto accident law, drivers have duties they owe to one another. When they cause accidents, victims will be able to file a personal injury claim. A lawyer could come in and evaluate a claim to see if the grounds are good enough. If they are, victims could have their attorney negotiate on their behalf and, as a last resort, prepare the case for court.

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