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Does lane-keeping technology live up to the hype?

Anyone who has purchased a new car in the Seattle area within recent years may have come across some of the new electronic driving aids. Many automakers are now fitting their cars with technologies such as lane-departure warning systems, fatigue warning alerts and collision avoidance systems. The aids are meant to allow the car to keep the driver from getting into a car accident.

A recent study, however, suggests that the technologies are not living up to their expected potential. Motor vehicles that are fitted with collision avoidance and fatigue warning systems are reportedly getting into fewer crashes, but those equipped with the lane-keeping technology may actually be more likely to get into an auto accident.

The study was conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute, which is a division within the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Researchers reviewed property damage liability claims--those filed by a driver that has been in a collision--to come up with the findings.

Researchers found that cars that have collision avoidance systems, which alert the driver of the risk of a collision, had 14 percent less property damage liability claims than previously. By contrast, vehicles that had this system as well autonomous braking systems saw declines of 10 percent.

Cars with systems that alert a driver when he or she begins to drift out of a lane had a slight increase in the insurance claims. The IIHS had forecasted that lane-keeping technologies could prevent as many as 7,000 fatal car accidents annually.

Some have said that because of the abundance of new safety technologies, drivers may be getting too many false alerts, and are beginning to tune them out and not listen to the warning systems. However, more research must be done to learn more about how these systems function.

While these new safety technologies give the vehicles themselves more autonomy, it is important for drivers to remember that they are ultimately responsible when they are behind the wheel. When someone is injured in a car accident, he or she can hold the negligent party accountable and receive compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and other financial effects of the accident.

Source: Wired, "Study Shows Electronic Driver Aids Mostly Help, Occasionally," Damon Lavrinc, July 3, 2012

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