Driver Assistance Technologies: Are You Using Them Correctly?

In 2020, 38,824 lives were lost in motor vehicle crashes, and many of these accidents could’ve been avoided if it weren’t for human error. To combat the mistakes that we humans make, more and more modern vehicles come equipped with driver assistance technologies. However, to experience their full safety benefits, you need to use them correctly. 

Here are some of the most common assistance technologies and how you can avoid misusing them. 

Blind Spot Warning 

If another car is lurking in your blind spot, your vehicle’s warning system will provide a visual alert (often accompanied by a beeping noise).   

What not to do: Don’t let these warnings replace the typical maneuvers you make before changing lanes. In addition to checking your blind spot monitor, always check your side mirrors and glance over your shoulder before changing lanes. 

Adaptive Cruise Control

Unlike regular cruise control, which requires you to manually adjust your set speed, adaptive cruise control (ACC) uses radars, cameras, and other sensors to monitor surrounding traffic and adjust your speed accordingly. 

What not to do: Don’t let your attention wander from the road or your surroundings. You should be able to take over the cruise control and manually adjust your speed at a moment’s notice. 

Lane Centering Assistance

As the name suggests, this driver assistance technology reads the lane lines and adjusts your vehicle to keep you centered. 

What not to do: While it may seem like the car is driving itself, this is usually not the case. You must keep your hands on the wheel at all times unless the car manufacturer has stated otherwise.

Lane Keeping Assistance 

Often confused with lane centering, lane keeping assistance stops your vehicle from exiting a lane with subtle steering movements. 

What not to do: Don’t forget that lane keeping assistance doesn’t function the same as lane centering. It’s your responsibility to keep the car heading in the center of the lane. If you don’t, your car will simply bounce between the right and left lane markings.  

Emergency Brake Assistance 

Emergency braking systems use sensors to predict imminent crashes and engage the brake system to minimize impact. This technology is so effective that the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has listed it as a recommended driver assistance technology.

What not to do: Automatic emergency braking can quickly react to unexpected driver behavior, but it’s not an excuse to take your eyes off of the road. To stay safe, make sure you’re avoiding any driver distractions. 

Forward Collision Warning

Similar to emergency braking, forward collision warning monitors your speed, the speed of the vehicle in front of you, and the distance between the two vehicles in real time. If you get too close to the other vehicle, the system will alert you.

What not to do: Around 40% of drivers confuse collision warnings with emergency braking, which can have fatal consequences. In addition to never relying on your assistance technology, make sure you take the time to understand the exact capabilities of your vehicle’s driving assistance features. 

The bottom line: Driver assistance technologies can be valuable safety tools, but they aren’t a replacement for sharp driving skills. Register for a driver’s education or defensive driving course to get the knowledge and practice you need to stay safe.