Many drivers don't understand semi-automated car tech

The Journal of Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making has just published a discussion between a professor of cognitive sciences and a NASA scientist on the subject of automated systems in cars. Specifically, the professionals address how drivers interact with autonomous technology. West Virginia residents should know that half of the cars being manufactured today are at least semi-automated. Some of these cars are relatively inexpensive and, thus, more widely available.

With this wide availability comes a higher risk for dangers because, as it turns out, many drivers don't understand how automated systems work or what their limitations are. In one survey, 11% of drivers thought that they could use their phones or engage in some other distracting activity whenever a vehicle's safety technology was on. This is to confuse safety tech with fully automated vehicles, which are still far in the future.

There are many safety devices out there, and keeping track of them can be difficult for drivers. For example, cars may come with automatic emergency braking (set to be a standard part of all new vehicles by 2022), adaptive cruise control and collision mitigation systems. One device can check blind spots while another may park the car in the driver's stead. Also, safety tech is not without its kinks. For example, rear-facing cameras may not detect children or small objects.

Drivers who are guilty of negligent driving cannot put the blame on safety technology. Semi-automated car tech is meant to assist drivers, not replace them. Someone who has been hurt by a negligent driver may want to see a lawyer who could evaluate the case and determine if they are eligible for compensation. In West Virginia, those who are less than 50% at fault may recover damages, but negotiating for a settlement is another matter. Legal counsel could oversee this process.

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