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Car safety features like lane-keeping assist can distract drivers

Drivers in Pennsylvania may own new cars with various safety features, but they should know that these features are liable to make them inattentive behind the wheel. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety published the results of a study in December 2019 that show which features in particular are distracting: adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist.

Adaptive cruise control, as many drivers know, will make the car accelerate or decelerate to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front. Lane-keeping assist will tug at the steering wheel when it senses the car drifting out of its lane. With neither feature is the driver allowed to become inattentive and let go of the steering wheel.

It appears, though, that automakers have not been educating drivers on the limitations of technology. Many drivers are overestimating the abilities of adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist, even to the point of assuming that the car drives itself when these features are engaged. Ironically, the study found that drivers unfamiliar with the features were less likely to become distracted.

The reality is that the features cannot make sophisticated decisions for drivers. Safety features are not the only things that can distract drivers; a 2017 AAA study revealed the dangers posed by touchscreen systems in newer vehicles.

When car accidents occur because one of the drivers was distracted, then the other side may be able to seek compensation for any injuries incurred. A successful personal injury claim might cover lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering and more. In this state, plaintiffs can recover damages if their degree of fault is less than the defendant's. Of course, the auto insurance companies can be aggressive in denying payment or getting plaintiffs to settle for a low amount, so it may be wise to hire a lawyer.

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