Back to School: Driving Dumber in Smarter Cars

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We are not only coming up on a new school year but also a lot of new drivers. While cars are becoming smarter and safer, a new study finds it’s making some drivers more careless.

Did you know 50 percent of all drivers don’t pay attention to the road during the time it takes to go 100 yards?

Despite new technology like adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance, some drivers are admitting it’s making them pay even less attention to the road.

School will be starting in just a few weeks, so we found out why parents need to make sure their new drivers are keeping their eyes on the road.

Over 75-percent of Americans drive cars, and while they are becoming smarter and safer many are becoming too reliant on them.

Kupper Automotive General Manager Justin Rambur says, “A big thing with these safety features is reminding people that a car is not a self-driving car and you still need to drive the car and it’s just there to assist.”

More Americans are admitting to using their smartphones while driving at higher rates than those without the newest car advancements, according to the State Farm survey.

State Farm Agent Terry Richter says, “Until they focus on what they are doing in the car we can have all the safety involved but it’s still going to be causing accidents when they aren’t paying attention.”

The “Are We Driving Dumber in Smarter Cars?” survey found that drivers of cars with adaptive cruise control or lane-keeping assistance engaged in more dangerous behaviors. And these new features are becoming more common in newer vehicles.

“An adaptive cruise control is nice when you are driving down the road and coming up on someone in front of you and it will actually detect that and slow the car down on its own if you aren’t paying attention,” says Rambur. “Same with the lane-keeping assistance — it will keep you in your lane again if you are not quite paying attention and it will watch the lines on the sides of the road indicating if you are going off the road or not and will nudge you back in your lane.”

The study found that drivers of cars equipped with these features are almost twice as likely to use video chat while behind the wheel. It also found more drivers with cell phone apps are manually entering phone numbers, holding their handset while talking, and even reading or sending text messages.

But there are some things you can do to prevent this.

“Simple things like putting your phone in the glove department, not messing with the radio while you are driving, setting your GPS before you leave, and things like that. And I think if people start thinking along those lines hopefully through education we will get safer,” Richter adds.

Richter says he himself loves the new technology in cars but they shouldn’t be a reason to not keep your eyes on the road.

“To replace a car or property is not a big deal, but when somebody is killed or you hurt someone seriously there’s really no amount of money in the world that can help that person and that’s something they will have to live with that bad decision,” says Richter.

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