Are new automated car safety technologies improving driver safety?

New advances in technology have brought about a trend in car safety through the introduction of automated safety technologies which are now being incorporated into new cars. But are these new technologies actually helping?

Two recently released studies are reporting that safety systems to prevent cars from drifting into another lane or that warn drivers of vehicles in their blind spots are showing promising results in significantly reducing crashes. But while this seems to be good news, there are still some concerns.

Research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has pointed out that some drivers may be less vigilant, instead relying more on automated safety systems or the displays that show how systems are performing. The concern is that this may be just another distraction to add to an already distracted driving population.

The two studies do agree on the findings that lane-keeping systems which include some that actually nudge the car back into its lane for the driver, and blind-spot monitoring systems had lower crash rates than the same vehicles without the systems.

While automated safety technologies may be making the cars we drive safer, there is still a factor to consider when the goal is safer highways. The drivers themselves are a primary concern to driving safety studies.

Driving behavior became the subject of a separate study by the insurance industry-funded institute and the Massachusetts Institute of technology’s Agelab which found that drivers who used automated systems that scan parking for spots and then park the car spend a lot more time looking at dashboard displays than at the parking spot, the road in front or the road behind. This was true even when the systems were searching for a parking spot and the drivers were still responsible for steering.

It would seem that we still need to do some work on the driver and car relationship before we can declare success.