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Study finds safety options risky for New Hampshire drivers

In the near future, automated vehicles offer the promise of near-perfect safety and freedom from concerns about drunk, negligent, distracted or drowsy drivers. Small steps are being taken to arrive at that destination, including early implementation of safety systems, which use the sensors and computerized controls being developed for driverless cars. Research published by AAA has found that these safety systems operate correctly, but they actually make New Hampshire roads less safe.

The study authors scrutinized two systems to determine their effectiveness at preventing motor vehicle accidents. Both lane-assist and adaptive cruise control rely on sensors and computer control of the steering column, brakes, and accelerator. Both systems were correlated with an increased number of car accidents and incidences of distracted driving. Authors even noticed that drivers with experience using the systems were more likely to be distracted and have accidents.

The researchers explained the failure to improve safety as a result of poor education. Drivers felt so confident in the systems that they turned their attention to other things, such as touch-screen devices. This increased the risk of motor vehicle accidents outside the systems' narrow range of preventable accidents. Interestingly, drivers with less experience using the safety devices were also involved in less car accidents.

The push toward driverless autos likely means even more implementation of partial automation billed as safety options. Some may work as intended while others make the roads more dangerous for everyone. Unfortunately, this means some New Hampshire drivers will suffer the fallout of motor vehicle accidents at the hands of a distracted driver. Victims are often too traumatized or incapacitated to handle complex matters of following up on accident investigations and obtaining sufficient compensation to cover lost wages and anticipated medical care. Experienced attorneys may ensure the victims' best interests are represented in efforts to maximize recovery of damages.

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