Improving safety and preventing or reducing accidents rank high on the list as motivators for new vehicle technologies. Advocates of fully autonomous vehicles even tout the benefits of removing humans from the driving equation in an effort to save lives.
Some studies, however, show that as vehicle technology advances, the risk of accidents does not decline as many would hope.
Specific Dangers for Pedestrians
The Verge provided insights into a AAA study that evaluated the effectiveness of systems designed to detect a pedestrian in a vehicle’s path and automatically stop the vehicle prior to hitting the pedestrian. One study scenario included vehicles operating at 30 miles per hour in clear daylight and an adult pedestrian dummy crossing in front of the vehicle. The vehicles hit the dummies 60% of the time. At night, the systems failed so miserably that AAA declared them totally ineffective.
Safety Features and Driver Behavior
Another set of research reviewed by the Virginia Technology Transportation Institute found a potentially dangerous trend among drivers when operating vehicles equipped with features designed to assist them.
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, it seems that drivers put so much trust in these advanced safety features that the drivers were significantly more apt to engage in other activities while still driving. These other activities frequently required them to take their eyes off the road or their hands off the steering wheel or other controls, creating visual or manual distractions. This was noted to happen in tests with vehicles equipped with adaptive cruise control systems and lane keeping assistance features.