Why Should Drivers Leave Car Safety Features On?

Alexandria Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Advocate for Clients after an Accident.

For years, federal laws have required all new model motor vehicles to be equipped with certain standard safety features, such as seat belts, airbags, and back-up cameras. These days, advanced driver assistance systems are also available and have been shown to decrease the number car accidents and fatal collisions. They prevent accidents that could be caused by distraction and fatigue, by providing alerts and driving corrections. However, some drivers dislike these features and keep them disabled while driving.

Why Do Some Motorists Turn Off Safety Features?

The most common reasons for disabling safety features are distraction and annoyance. The beeps, lights, and loud alerts are troubling for many drivers, and they believe they are better off not using them. Car safety experts hope that drivers will become more used to the features over time, and that they will start using them all the time. Sometimes, there is just a learning curve involved, but manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to make these safety features easier to use.

A study shared by Erie Insurance showed that the following features were the ones turned off most often:

  • Adaptive cruise control not used by 30 percent of respondents because they wanted to be more in control of their vehicles
  • Driver attention monitors not used by 23 percent because of false alarms
  • Lane keeping assist not used by 23 percent because of the lack of control
  • Automated emergency braking not used by 17 percent of drivers who did not trust it to work effectively

The other reported disabled safety features included lane departure warnings, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning, traffic sign recognition, and pedestrian detection.

Do Advanced Safety Features Really Help Prevent Accidents?

A study shared by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)/Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) revealed that automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning systems, when used together, cut the number of front-to-rear accidents with injuries by 56 percent. However, the Erie Insurance study showed estimated percentages and numbers of preventable accidents that may have been avoided if drivers their safety features on:

  • Not turning off lane departure warning systems may have reduced single-vehicle, head-on, and sideswipe accidents by 14 percent/8,000 crashes.
  • Not turning off blind-spot monitoring may have reduced lane-changing accidents by 15 percent/1,000 collisions.
  • Not turning off automated emergency braking may have reduced front-to-rear accidents by 60 percent/16,000+ crashes.

Are Car Safety Features Actually Safe?

The advanced safety features clearly have merit, but they have not been around for all that long and apparently still have room for improvement. However, even though the benefits may outweigh the risks, drivers turn them off because they do not want to deal with them. It is also important to understand that these features are designed to assist drivers, and not be substitutes for checking rear view mirrors and looking both ways before crossing intersections. It is still important to be safe and to practice defensive driving at all times.

Front airbags have been around since before they became standard on all new cars in 1998 and have saved countless lives. Just as with the more advanced features, drivers should understand how airbags work and how to use them. Children under age 12 should always be seated in the back, in appropriate restraint systems or rear-facing child seats; neither should they ride in the front because of the potential risk for personal injury. Now, there are dual-stage and side airbags in vehicles as well.

Antilock braking systems (ABS) and traction control were also both around before advanced safety systems, and drivers have gotten used to these. Drivers may experience short pulsing sensations or feel momentary braking with these systems, but these are less distracting than the alerts that the advanced systems use.

Critics believe that many drivers do not understand how to use these systems properly, which leads to disablement, misuse, and over-reliance. Although turning off the features might be counterproductive, over-relying on them can be just as bad. Again, drivers also have to check their surroundings for traffic, pedestrians, and obstructions in the road, even when the systems are on and functioning.

Important Virginia Car Accident Laws

If you or someone you care about ends up getting into an accident in the Commonwealth of Virginia, with or without safety features having been used, there are several laws that will go into effect. The first one applies to reporting the accident: It is your duty to report it if someone was injured, if there was a fatality, or if the vehicle or other property was damaged. The driver must report their name, address, registration, and license information to a local law enforcement agency, the state police, anyone struck and injured, the other driver and any occupants, and the owner/custodian of any other damaged property. Not doing so can lead to criminal liability.

Second is the statute of limitations for car accident injuries when drivers, passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and people on electric scooters are injured and want to file lawsuits against allegedly responsible parties. The time limit for this is two years following the accident date. If the accident caused a death, the person’s representative or family member has two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit. As for vehicle or property damage caused by a car accident in the state, plaintiffs have five years to file a suit against a defendant.

The third law of concern is often the most challenging one: contributory negligence. According to this rule, a claimant cannot receive monetary damages if he or she is found to have contributed in any way to the accident. In other words, if you are claiming a certain amount in medical expenses and property damages against a defendant and the court found that you were even slightly responsible for the collision, you will not receive anything. This law is not unique to Virginia; other states have it, but it is thought to be plaintiff unfriendly. Still, if you have a legitimate claim and are seeking a settlement or lawsuit, speaking with an experienced car accident lawyer could be your best bet.

Alexandria Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Advocate for Clients after an Accident

Even the most safety-conscious drivers end up in auto accidents and can have trouble getting the damages for which they are legally entitled. If you have been in an accident, reach out to the Alexandria car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King. Our experienced legal team will investigate the cause of the accident and fight to secure full and fair compensation. 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.