According to the latest CARFAX study, In Car Technology We Trust, car safety features such as backup cameras, driver assists, and hands free technology are becoming not only increasingly important for drivers to have in their latest car, but have a significant impact on the driving experience. According to Jim Sharifi, editor for CARFAX, “the NHTSA [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] lists features such as a rearview camera, forward collision warning and lane departure warning as recommended safety technologies.” It’s no wonder then, that 87% of CARFAX survey respondents name car safety features as an important factor while purchasing their next vehicle.
While these safety features become more common and even standard in vehicles, and the general public have a positive outlook on them, the true safety benefits of these features remain to be proven. Even though this is the case, drivers rely heavily on the technology, as it takes the place of what drivers used to do themselves. For example 30% of drivers first check their backup camera while reversing, while 25% actually look over their shoulder. In the same vein, 4 out of 5 drivers with in-car Bluetooth use their phone in the car. This means, that while they are not technically using their hands, they are still driving distracted, which is the causing 4 times the number of crashes that non technology users (NHTSA).
So what can be the take away from all the numbers and data that is important for technology using drivers to know? According to Sharifi, “It is important to remember that while safety technology is continually evolving…they are not a substitute for safe driving habits…drivers still need to be alert and aware of their surroundings.”
The clear over-reliance on technology while driving can be detrimental, because after all, technology is not (yet) smarter than human beings. Even though the technology has made a tremendous impact on driver’s safety, it still does not take the place of a clear head and smart driving choices. Education is imperative. Doing your research, understanding each safety feature in your vehicle and how they operate is important. And above all, common sense and age old “rules of the road” are every driver’s best bet.