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AAA reports on drivers' overreliance on safety tech

Residents of South Carolina who are concerned about the effects of vehicle safety technology on driving behaviors will want to know about a study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. It states that people are relying too heavily on driver assistance systems and, as a result, are putting themselves and others at risk.

For example, blind-spot monitoring is supposed to help people behind the wheel detect vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians, yet 80 percent of drivers overestimate this capability. About 25 percent of drivers neglect to look for oncoming vehicles before changing lanes, and 29 percent with adaptive cruise control, which accelerates and brakes for them, feel that they can engage in distracting activities when the feature is activated.

Among those with automatic emergency braking systems, 40 percent do not know the difference between this particular feature and forward-collision warnings. The latter, of course, provide warnings while the former take action. AAA suggests that automakers, dealers and rental car companies are failing to educate customers about this technology. It also points to misleading marketing as another possible factor.

The report emphasizes that driver assistance systems still have a lot to offer. It's estimated that they prevent 40 percent of car crashes and 30 percent of crash-related fatalities. The results of the study raise questions, though, as to whether drivers can adapt to a future with autonomous vehicles.

Not knowing the limitations of safety tech will not likely excuse a driver for causing a car accident. Victims, for their part, will want lawyers to evaluate their grounds for filing personal injury claims. A successful claim could cover losses like vehicle repair costs, medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering. It must be filed before the two-year statute of limitations expires. An attorney could handle all the negotiations for a settlement and prepare the case for court if an agreement cannot be reached.

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