AAA Foundation study: car safety tech causes distraction

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has analyzed the safety features on a number of newer vehicles, including the Tesla Model S, Acura MDX, Ford Fusion and Hyundai Sonata, and it has come to an important conclusion. Drivers in New Jersey should know that two features in particular are liable to make them complacent behind the wheel: adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist.

The first maintains a safe following distance by accelerating and decelerating without driver input, and the second prevents the car from drifting out of its lane by tugging at the steering wheel. Both features still require drivers to control the steering wheel and be alert to their surroundings. Drivers who are ignorant of this requirement, though, overestimate the ability of these features and assume that they can drive distracted without a risk.

The AAA Foundation study revealed that drivers who are less familiar with the workings of these safety systems are actually less likely to be distracted behind the wheel. In any case, it is clear that automakers must do better to educate car owners about these features, which do not make the car a self-driving car.

It's not just safety features that distract drivers. A 2017 AAA study found that newer touchscreen systems are putting motorists at a higher risk for an accident.

Those motorists who cause car collisions because they were distracted should be held liable. As for those who incurred a severe injury or disability, they may file a third-party insurance claim as long as they are 50% or less at fault. They may hire a lawyer to assist with each step, from the gathering of evidence to the settlement negotiations, and take the case to court as a last resort. A successful claim might cover losses like medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.

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