We’ve talked many times before about how with 90 per cent of all car accidents being the fault of the drivers and how therefore adding automated safety features to vehicles is the best way to make them safer for us to get around in. However, it’s not that easy as new research suggests, as the driving habits of most of us, are not conducive to letting these new provisions keep us any safer than we already are.
The problem stems from the fact that most of us have picked up bad driving habits over the years. Driving too close to the car in-front, or not paying enough attention on long drives. Many of these make it problematic for automated features to function properly. There’s no more time for an autonomous emergency braking system to detect an impending impact and slow the vehicle down, than there is for a human to do so if you’re driving mere feet from the car in-front.
Even when we learn to keep a safe distance from those ahead of us, that doesn’t mean others aren’t going to. Perhaps someone moves into the gap you’ve made by dropping back a little. Or it may be a case that when the motorways get clogged and speeds remain high, that you have no choice but to put yourself and potentially your loved ones, in a position where the vehicle knows you don’t have enough room to stop in time.
Similarly so, blind spot monitoring, animal/obstacle detection and lane assist systems need us to actually take notice of their warnings if they are to be of any effect. If drivers choose to ignore their warnings and maintain a high speed, or move over despite assurances that someone may be coming up behind them, then they become quite redundant.
So as we move through this strange middle ground of some automation, before the fully driverless cars are released, we’ll need to adapt our driving styles to better make use of them. Ironically, those driving habits are likely to make us safer in their own right, whether the automated features are there or not, so perhaps the knock on effect will be better than expected?
Of course drivers could bundle in telematics to their driving safety systems too, as that’s been shown to have a big positive impact on driver behaviour, but people still need to be willing to change and that’s not always the case.