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Driver Assist Technology May Mean More Car Accidents, Study Shows

Among the various technological bells and whistles promising to forever change the experience of being in a car, driver assist systems are often hailed as a safe and effective bridge to a future in which vehicles drive themselves. But our Denver personal injury attorney notes that a new study shows that automated systems are giving human drivers a false sense of security.

Drivers are more likely to let their focus wander from the road when behind the wheel of a car equipped with automated technology, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab. That includes using a smartphone or taking both hands off of the wheel, the duo found in a recent study.

Drivers are particularly more likely to become disengaged the longer they use vehicles with automated systems.

“It shows some drivers may be getting lulled into a false sense of security over time,” IIHS Senior Researcher Ian Reagan said in a statement announcing the study’s findings.

Researchers looked at the driving behaviors of 20 people in Massachusetts over the course of a month. 

Half of those drivers used Land Rover Range Rover Evoque sport utility vehicles equipped with adaptive cruise control. The “Level 1” automation technology keeps the vehicles traveling at a speed chosen by the driver while maintaining a pre-established following distance.

The other half drove a Volvo S90 loaded with ACC and Pilot Assist, which is a partially automated system that combines ACC with lane-centering technology designed to keep the vehicle positioned in a travel lane. Pilot Assist is considered “Level 2” automation, the highest level available in cars today.

Researchers noticed little difference in driving between the two groups whether they were driving manually or using the driver-assist technology at the start of the study. After a month, however, they were significantly more likely to take their eyes off the road, use a phone, tinker with controls or take their hands off of the wheel.

Driver Disengagement Can Prove Fatal – Contact a Denver Personal Injury Attorney for Help

That trend could have fatal consequences

“Crash investigators have identified driver disengagement as a major factor in every probe of fatal crashes involving partial automation we’ve seen,” IIHS’s Reagan said.

The study comes as Tesla has been under fire for fatal accidents involving vehicles in Autopilot mode at the time of the crashes.

A 2018 crash in California killed an Apple engineer who had previously complained about Autopilot malfunctioning on the same stretch of road, according to federal investigators. Records also reportedly showed that the man may have been distracted and using his cell phone while the driver-assist system was engaged.

A separate deadly crash in Florida reportedly occurred when a Tesla Model 3 engaged in Autopilot at the time did not slow or take other evasive action as it sped toward a semi-truck at 70 miles an hour. 

Speak with a Denver Personal Injury Attorney as Soon as Possible

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in Colorado, Denver personal injury attorney Jordan Levine can help. Mr. Levine and his team of attorneys fight aggressively to get people the full compensation for their injuries available under the law.

We are pleased to serve clients throughout Colorado, including in Denver, Colorado Springs, Ft. Collins, and Loveland. Call us at 303-333-8000 or contact us online to speak with a Denver personal injury attorney.

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