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Can advanced safety features increase your risk of a crash?

If you've bought a new vehicle in the past few years, it likely has some nifty safety features (either standard on the vehicle or optional) designed to minimize your chances of a crash. These are known as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). However, they all have different names, depending on the vehicle manufacturer.

These advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) include features like blind-spot monitoring, forward-collision warning and lane departures warnings. Some, like Subaru's EyeSight, warn you if a car or even a pedestrian is behind you.

However, these features can actually increase a person's chances of a crash if they don't understand their limitations. For example, a study last year by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 80 percent of those surveyed didn't understand the limitations of blind-spot monitoring. While it's intended to alert drivers to vehicles in their blind spots, it may not be able to detect a vehicle traveling at a high speed. They may not detect bicyclists or pedestrians in a driver's blind spot either.

Forward-collision warning systems are another feature that drivers often overestimate or fail to understand. Typically, the system is designed to warn a driver if they appear about to collide into the vehicle in front of them, but these systems may not automatically apply the brakes. The EyeSight system has something called a pre-collision throttle management system that, when it detects a vehicle stopped ahead, will reduce engine power, which can give drivers time to react.

These safety features can be a problem if drivers don't learn how to use them properly or rely on them rather than taking the precautions we were taught when learning to drive -- like looking over your shoulder, checking your mirrors and keeping an eye on the vehicles around you.

As an official with the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says, "New vehicle safety technology is designed to make driving safer, but it does not replace the important role each of us plays behind the wheel." When used correctly, however, and as an adjunct to safe driving practices, they "have the potential to prevent 40 percent of all vehicle crashes and nearly 30 percent of traffic deaths."

If you're involved in a crash with another driver who relied too heavily on their ADAS, make sure that you get the compensation you need and deserve to cover medical bills and other expenses and damages.

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