mechanic diagnosing a car using a tablet

Technology’s Tug-of-War for Driver Safety

Car technology has come a long way from the horse drawn carriages of the 18th century. Since then, we’ve seen cars powered by steam, gasoline, natural gas, electricity and even hydrogen.

Powertrains aren’t the only vehicle tech improvements we’ve seen, however, as many automakers and tech companies are developing systems that will decrease, or even eliminate, human error to make cars safer and move us closer to living like the Jetsons. Among the latest safety enhancements are:

  • Vehicle – In-car health monitors that measure heart rate and oxygen saturation to alert the driver when he or she is too tired and should pull over to rest.
  • Piloted parking – Several manufacturers are now making cars that park themselves, making it easier for a driver to maneuver into tight parking spots without causing accidents.
  • Automatic braking - Automatic braking is now available on a wide range of vehicles, using cameras and radar sensors to locate objects that could cause a collision. If a crash is imminent and the driver does not react, the system engages the brakes. It even applies full brake force at speeds from 5 to 50 mph, providing an added element of safety.
  • Chatty cars - Vehicle-to-vehicle communication that allows cars to send information about their location, direction and speed to keep a safe distance between cars.

No matter how much safety technology manufacturers put into their vehicles, they are always outpaced by the distractions drivers bring with them, such as smartphones, tablets, music players, GPS and other devices. The abundance of technology incites a tug-of-war for drivers’ attention: automotive safety feature vs. our devices. Unfortunately, our in-car safety features often lose the battle, and as a result, lives are in danger.

Distracted driving is a destructive habit that is all too common on American roads. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, at any given moment, approximately 660,000 drivers in the U.S. are using electronic devices while driving. These distracted drivers cause thousands of fatal accidents each year with an estimated 3,330 people killed and 421,000 injured in car accidents involving a distracted driver in 2012 … and the number of casualties grows every year.

There are simple solutions that will allow you to enjoy your devices without putting you and other drivers at risk.

  • Create a driving playlist that doesn’t need to be changed manually while driving.
  • Use a phone app that disables texting while you’re behind the wheel.
  • Program locations into your GPS before you hit the road.
  • Sign the Don’t Text and Drive pledge to make our roads safer.

At the end of the day, distracted driving isn’t worth the risk.

Drivers who follow these safety tips are often rewarded for eliminating distractions and driving safely. Mercury Insurance offers discounts and savings for good driving records, as well as accident and ticket-free driving. Talk to your local Mercury agent to learn more.