Posted on September 23rd, 2016

YOU Are Still Your Car’s Best Safety Feature

The safety features appearing in new cars today seem almost magical. They can help you see where you might not have been able to easily see before. Help you park in spaces that you might never have considered. Help keep you inside lanes. Let you know if you are tired. Assist you in stopping if you don’t react in time.

However smart this new class of features seems, they are known as advanced driver assistance systems for a reason. Their job is to assist the driver. Despite the press and marketing hype, no car is yet able to drive itself for any length of time without direct driver supervision. No vehicle in production has demonstrated it is able to drive by itself over the range of places and through the range of conditions you can as the driver.

The one simple safety truth of driving today is: YOU are still your car’s best safety feature.

That means all the techniques you were taught when you learned to drive, defensive driving and other safe driving practices, must still be used on the road. As noted by MyCarDoesWhat’s Deborah Hersman and Daniel McGehee, advanced driver assistance systems are meant to provide “an extra set of eyes that may help if the driver cannot or does not react in time. But today, the driver is responsible for the safe handling of an automobile, not the technology.”

Drivers must also have a thorough understanding of how and why their car’s safety features operate to use them effectively. A recent study by the University of Iowa found that many drivers do not fully understand many of the safety features currently in their cars or how they function. This knowledge gap is particularly concerning, as more safety technologies will become standard in new cars in coming years. The recent commitment by 20 top automakers to make automatic emergency braking a standard feature on the majority of car models demonstrates that there is general agreement these systems can help make your drive safer by reducing crashes and injuries. This innovation is expected to continue.

But for the foreseeable future, no matter how advanced our driver assistance systems become, the key ingredient will still be, as it always has, an active, engaged driver.

We are all excited to see what tomorrow will bring. However, if you want to learn what your car’s safety features do today, look carefully at the owner’s manual and browse’s videos, graphics and games!