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Vehicle technology risks and benefits

The new vehicle safety technology that is becoming more and more prevalent may have you considering a new car purchase in Washington. Manufacturers are touting these onboard crash prevention features as the solution to many of the sources of traffic crashes. We at Elk & Elk understand that safety features are not a substitute for safe driving behaviors.

The AAA is an organization that evaluates vehicle technology and provides reports that assist the auto industry, legislators and the public in analyzing the pros and cons. The developers of safety features are focused on mitigating your risks on the road, but at times, the finished product does not perform as well in real life as it did in concept and in crash tests. A recent AAA study assessed performance of two systems in a series of traffic conditions: Lane-departure warning and blind spot-monitoring systems.

You may want to rely on a lane-departure warning system to keep you between the lines, but too much trust in the technology may lead to trouble under a variety of road conditions. Many of these systems are not able to consistently identify the parameters of a lane if the markers are faded, or if intersections or road construction interrupts a clear lane. 

Craning your neck to see if there is a vehicle in your blind spot as you attempt to merge or change lanes can be frustrating and inconclusive. A blind-spot monitoring system seems like the perfect solution, but in tests, this technology lagged in detecting motorcycles and fast-moving vehicles. 

These issues do not conclusively indicate that you are better off trusting your own driving skills. Both types of technology can offer an extra layer of protection. However, you should not expect a car with these programs to perform on its own. You should also familiarize yourself with the owner's manual so that when the system sends you an alert, you know what it is trying to tell you.

More information about driving risks is available on our webpage.

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