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Experts worry about new car safety feature risks

Car buyers in Georgia and around the country have a vast range of new vehicles to choose from, and many of them come equipped with sophisticated safety technology that warns drivers of impending dangers or even takes control in emergencies to avoid a crash. While road safety advocacy groups have welcomed these new safety features, technology experts predict that they could make some kinds of accidents more likely because drivers do not yet fully understand them or know how they work.

An article published recently in the Journal of Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making by a NASA scientist and University of California San Diego professor draws parallels between current automobile safety innovations and the introduction of automatic pilot systems by the aviation industry in the 1930s. The article also points out that issues with technology are still causing problems for pilots today.

Two recent crashes involving Boeing 737 airliners are thought to have been caused by problems with Boeing's Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System. The pilots involved did not take corrective action to save the aircraft because they did not know that they could override the system. There have already been fatal car accidents blamed on drivers who thought that semiautonomous safety systems were more capable than they actually were, and experts worry that such crashes will become more common as new technology is introduced at an even greater pace.

In addition to possibly preventing crashes or reducing the seriousness of the injuries suffered, modern automobile safety systems keep a detailed electronic record of the actions taken by drivers in the moments prior to a collision. This information can help investigators to determine the cause of an accident, and it might also be used by experienced personal injury attorneys to establish negligence in lawsuits filed on behalf of road users who suffered injury, loss or damage.

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