Can Adaptive Cruise Control Lead to More Car Wrecks?

safety features on car

Adaptive cruise control is one of the most useful active safety systems and is included on many current and recently manufactured automobiles and other vehicles. Unfortunately, like all mechanical things, an adaptive cruise control might not work properly, which could result in a car wreck.

Adaptive cruise control is designed to use technology to monitor the traffic and objects that are ahead of your vehicle. When the vehicle ahead of you slows down, the adaptive cruise control is designed to slow your vehicle down to help you maintain a safe following distance.

Many adaptive cruise control systems also include automated braking. If the adaptive cruise control detects a large and very slow or stopped object ahead of your vehicle, it will engage the brakes to slow you down and possibly bring your vehicle to a safe stop.

Adaptive Cruise Control Is Not Foolproof

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says the use of adaptive cruise control increases the risk of fatal accidents occurring when compared with driving manually.

The IIHS recently studied how motorists use the active safety technology and concluded that about 95 percent of drivers who use the technology set the cruise speed higher than the posted speed limit. A majority of drivers, 77 percent, who do not use adaptive cruise control also exceed the posted speed limit.

The 18 percent difference in travel speeds means drivers using adaptive cruise control are running a significantly higher risk of causing an accident than those who do not.

Speed Factors Highly in Fatal Accidents

Speed is a critical factor in fatal and catastrophic accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says speeding has been a significant factor in a third of all traffic fatalities over the past two decades.

NHTSA also says speeding includes driving too fast for road conditions, which often happens during bad weather, at night while traversing poorly lit roadways, and while driving through construction zones.

NHTSA says the consequences of speeding include the following:

  • Active safety systems are less effective.
  • Greater possibility of losing control of your vehicle.
  • Longer stopping distances.
  • More extensive injuries during accidents.
  • Higher fuel costs and risk of traffic tickets.

Many drivers generally do not use cruise control while driving in city traffic, owing to the continual stops and starts and varying traffic speeds. When on a freeway or highway, drivers are more likely to use adaptive cruise control.

The way that adaptive cruise control works would seem to encourage motorists to set their respective cruising speeds at higher speeds. Reliance on the technology is not proving to be safer, especially when motorists use it to speed on freeways and highways.

The IIHS suggests safety could be improved if carmakers limited the maximum speeds at which the adaptive cruise control systems could operate. Unfortunately, that would not stop the systems from enabling motorists to set the speed much higher than posted on highways and rural roads.

Many Vehicles Have Faulty Adaptive Cruise Control

Anecdotal evidence suggests a malfunctioning adaptive cruise control system could make an accident a virtual certainty. Some car owners have said their units have caused their vehicles to accelerate to very high speeds with no ability to stop them.

Some accident investigations have shown that some adaptive cruise control units might suffer from electrical interference from other electrical systems on a vehicle. The electrical signals could cause the adaptive cruise control to improperly assess speeds and traffic conditions and create a dangerous situation.

A variety of vehicles from some of the top manufacturers have been identified as having faulty cruise control systems, including some of the world’s most popular brands. The automakers generally do not manufacture their cruise control systems, which makes it possible for a parts manufacturer to be at least partly liable for accident costs.

How to Hold Third Parties Liable?

Whether your vehicle accelerates out of control, or you are struck by another motorist who overly relies on adaptive cruise control, third parties could share liability for the accident.

You might have seen past news reports or read news stories about some vehicles that suddenly accelerate and cause injury accidents or fatalities. In such cases, the carmaker could be liable for a defective product.

When the automaker installs an adaptive cruise control unit that is built by a third-party manufacturer, the entity that made the cruise control unit and the parts supplier might be additional third parties to a personal injury lawsuit.

An experienced car accident lawyer could help to identify possible third parties that might be liable for an accident caused by a defective cruise control unit of any type.

Drivers Should Not Rely on Adaptive Cruise Control

Adaptive cruise control and other active safety systems are no substitute for attentive, lawful, and safe driving. They work very well as backup systems and can greatly enhance driver safety, but not when relied on as a substitute for attentive driving.

Motorists who overly rely on active safety systems such as blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assistance, and adaptive cruise control are more apt to become distracted while driving. Any type of distracted driving greatly increases the potential for causing an accident.

As the IIHS study shows, drivers also are more likely to exceed the speed limit at greater rates than those who do not use cruise control at all. Depending on adaptive cruise control to slow you down and prevent an accident is a mistake that could cost your life and the lives of your passengers.

Adaptive cruise control does not adjust for road conditions and can work well only when the driver is paying close attention to traffic. When used properly, it is an asset for safe drivers, but you must use it as intended.

Bowie Car Wreck Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Help to Hold Responsible Parties Accountable

If you have been involved in an accident, the Bowie car wreck lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King are available to help. Our experienced legal team will investigate the cause of the collision and fight to secure the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us today at 202-331-1963 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Washington DC, Alexandria, Virginia, and National Harbor, Maryland, we work with clients in Prince George’s County, including Laurel, Beltsville, Adelphi, College Park, Greenbelt, Mitchellville, Woodmore, Greater Upper Marlboro, Springdale, Largo, Bowie, Capitol Heights, District Heights, Forestville, Suitland, Seat Pleasant, Clinton, Oxon Hill, Temple Hills, and Fort Washington.