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Report: Newer cars may cause driver complacency

Many people in Jeffersonville and on the Indiana side of the Ohio River may well buy a new car this year.

While these cars come with a lot of great safety features that were not available to previous generations of car owners, this might not always be a good thing.

In fact, one study suggests that these safety features may lull drivers in to a sense of complacency, even if they do not realize exactly how their safety equipment works.

Those involved in manufacturing these vehicles seemingly have been careful to warn people about what their cars' safety features can and cannot, yet consumers do not seem to be terribly informed.

For example, 40 percent of motorists could not properly distinguish between an automatic braking system, which actually stops a car before it has a crash, and a forward collision warning system, which tells the driver via an alert to take evasive action but otherwise will do nothing to prevent an impending collision.

The difference between these two systems is significant, but, despite the confusion, it seems many drivers are assuming that their safety equipment is full proof. One in four drivers even admitted that, because they had advanced safety equipment in their cars, they felt at liberty to engage in other activities. In other words, they felt distracted driving was acceptable.

In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Unfortunately, while these sort of devices are indeed proven to save lives in car accidents, they also may in some cases give a driver too much confidence in their safety. Overconfidence in the resulting carelessness and inattentiveness is of course the responsibility of the driver, and he or she will not be allowed to use their car's technology as an excuse. Victims of these sorts of drivers can hold them accountable in an appropriate civil lawsuit.

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