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Drivers may be too reliant on safety features, says AAA

Minnesota drivers who use safety features like automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring should not over-rely on these features. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has come out with a report that sheds light on this trend, which raises questions about how drivers will be able to adapt to semi-autonomous vehicles in the future. At the root is ignorance of safety tech limitations.

Blind-spot monitoring, for example, is not so effective at detecting fast-approaching cars, bicyclists and pedestrians. Yet 80 percent of drivers in the AAA report overestimate this ability, and 20 percent are so trusting that they never look for oncoming vehicles when changing lanes.

Another example is adaptive cruise control, which brakes and accelerates so that the vehicle keeps up with traffic flow. It is not meant to take drivers' attention from the road, yet 29 percent feel they are comfortable engaging in other activities when it is on. AAA also found that over 40 percent of those with automatic emergency braking cannot differentiate between this system and forward-collision warning.

These safety features can reduce the number of car crashes by 30 percent and crash fatalities by 40 percent, according to federal estimates. But if dealers and auto manufacturers fail to educate customers about the features, and if the features are marketed in misleading ways, they could backfire.

Drivers will be to blame if their overreliance on safety tech causes them to get in car accidents. In Minnesota, victims can file a personal injury claim even if they were partially at fault. However, they will want a case assessment from a lawyer first. If the grounds for a claim are strong, the lawyer can take it on and negotiate for a settlement.

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