WASHINGTON – Within the past couple of years safety technology has expanded when it comes to the automotive industry, but sometimes it can be a lot to take in.
Some features will automatically turn a car back into its lane if it begins to drift, or hit the brakes if sensors detect that it’s about to rear-end someone else. There are lane-change and blind-spot monitors, drowsiness alerts and cars that can park themselves. Technologies once limited to high-end models like adaptive cruise control, tire-pressure indicators and rear-view cameras have become more common.
The features hold tremendous potential to reduce deaths and injuries by eliminating collisions or mitigating their severity, safety advocates say.
But there’s one problem: Education on how to use them doesn’t come standard. Bewildered drivers sometimes just turn them off, defeating the safety potential.
“If people don’t understand how that works or what the car is doing, it may startle them or make them uncomfortable,” said Deborah Hersman, president of the National Safety Council. “We want to make sure we’re explaining things to people so that the technology that can make them safer is actually taken advantage of.”
The council and the University of Iowa, along with the Department of Transportation, are kicking off an education campaign Wednesday to inform drivers on how the safety features work. The effort includes a website, MyCarDoesWhat.org, with video demonstrations.