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Are high-tech safety features a driving distraction?

22/04/2018 by Kirsten Brent in Safety

Today's cars come packed with an astonishing array of features that just a few years ago would have seemed like science fiction. Many of them, such as lane centring and automatic braking systems, are designed to keep us safe and secure on the roads. But what if all those features with their range of options, their buttons and all those things that beep at you were distracting you from the vital task of driving?

Well that's the question that's been raised by an American survey conducted by insurance company Esurance. It found that "64% of drivers with semi-autonomous or in-car technology say they have been occasionally or frequently distracted, while 55% of drivers in cars without the features reported distraction."

But according to the report "even with these results, the high-tech car features make drivers feel safer". Almost half (46%) of those surveyed thought those safety features improved their driving, while just 10% thought it hindered it.

Turning off safety feature

A quarter of those drivers with new technology at their disposal turned off at least one feature and almost one in three found warning sounds distracting. Another distraction was the vast array of buttons and options on high technology vehicles, making it tempting to take their hands off the wheel and their eyes and concentration off the road.

The report raises concerns that over-reliance on high tech safety features like lane centring, emergency braking and obstacle detection "could end in disaster".

"The idea that consumers might rely too much upon or even abuse these new technologies is a big concern," writes Brandon Schoettle, a project manager at the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute in the survey report. "We are at a point where you can take your hands and feet off the controls for the most advanced systems, but not yet to the point where you can turn your brain off."

Mobile phone

High-tech safety features are one thing but a far more prevalent distraction while driving is the mobile phone. Using one while driving on a call, or worse, while reading or writing texts increases the risk of crashing four-fold. Yet despite the all-too-obvious risks many of us do it. A NSW survey of 415 drivers discovered that 68% of them had read emails, tweeted or updated their Facebook status while on the road.

Mobile-addicted young drivers are particularly prone to mobile phone distraction, with 18-25 year olds twice as likely to make a phone call and four times more likely to text according to a study by Queensland's Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety.

Mobile phone distraction comes in three forms: Firstly there's the physical distraction of removing your hands from the wheel to pick up the phone and answer it. Secondly there's the visual distraction that comes with taking your eyes off the road to look for buttons, or worse still, read text messages. Thirdly there's the cognitive distraction of having your attention diverted from driving towards the phone conversation.

That cognitive distraction is far greater than talking to a passenger who's more aware of what's happening on the road and can stop talking in a dangerous situation, allowing the driver to concentrate.

For all these reasons the best policy with mobile phones in cars is not to use them while driving. Pull over and park somewhere safe and then talk.

Fleetcare Crash Management

Driver distraction is a major cause of accidents. Should the worst happen to you and you're involved in an accident then you'll find Fleetcare Crash Management is just a phone call away with all the help you need.

We work hard to minimise the stress and hassle of accidents, moving and handling your vehicle, working with your insurer, organising repairs, checking on progress and making sure everything's just as it should be. We'll even arrange a replacement vehicle to get you back on the road again.

For further information about Fleetcare Crash Management call Fleetcare today on 134 333. In the meantime keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel.

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