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Questions persist about automatic safety systems

| Dec 12, 2020 | Car Accidents |

Many of the newer cars, minivans, SUVs and pickup trucks sold in Michigan and around the country now feature autonomous and semiautonomous safety systems that monitor road and traffic conditions and step in automatically in dangerous situations to prevent accidents. Road safety experts hope that features like lane departure correction and automatic braking will save thousands of lives each year by eliminating human error, but the results of tests designed to assess the effectiveness of the technology are far from conclusive.

Lofty claims

After testing blind spot monitoring systems, researchers from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety concluded that about 50,000 accidents and 16,000 injuries would be prevented every year if all passenger vehicles in America were equipped with the feature. In 2018, a Swiss insurer claimed that autonomous safety systems can reduce accident rates by 25% and save insurers about $20 billion annually.

Increased danger for pedestrians and cyclists

The results of other studies are not nearly as promising, and some experts claim that semiautonomous technology actually makes the roads more dangerous by giving drivers a false sense of security. When the American Automobile Association put cars fitted with automatic braking and pedestrian detection systems to the test, they were shocked to discover that the technology failed to spot pedestrians 60% of the time even during daylight hours and at speeds as low as 20 mph. At night, the researchers found the technology to be virtually useless.

Valuable data

While the safety benefits of autonomous vehicle technology may be the subject of fierce debate, the data these systems gather and store has already proved useful to accident investigators. When their clients have been injured in car accidents involving vehicles equipped with these features, experienced personal injury attorneys could use this data to establish negligence if it reveals that drivers were speeding or distracted in the moments before they crashed.

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