Challenges for advanced vehicle safety features

Many people shopping for new vehicles today may opt to purchase models that come with features intended to improve safety. Largely fueled by technological advances, these features may work to reduce accidents or reduce the severity of injuries experienced in accidents.

These advanced vehicle technologies may well stem from good intentions, yet their effectiveness appears to be limited to date due to two very different reasons.

Poorly functioning technology

One common set of features in new vehicles today is the combination of pedestrian detection and automatic braking. Clearly designed to prevent or reduce pedestrian accidents, one study indicates these features have a long way to go before they can be fully successful.

The Verge reported on the study conducted by AAA in which vehicles drove at 30 miles per hour in clear, daylight conditions. Adult pedestrian dummies walked in front of test vehicles and were still hit in six out of 10 scenarios.

Results of tests conducted in night conditions were even worse, to the point where AAA rated the features completely ineffective in dark driving conditions when most pedestrian fatalities happen.

Distracted drivers

Discussions about distracted driving frequently center around the handheld use of mobile phones or other devices. Now, however, it seems that the very systems built into some new vehicles with the intention of improving safety may well exacerbate the problems associated with distracted driving.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety explains that one set of data showed drivers operating vehicles outfitted with adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assistance functions spent less time with their eyes focused on the road. In fact, these drivers had an 80% greater likelihood of engaging in actions not related to driving that would result in manual distractions or visual distractions.