Motor vehicles today are more technologically advanced than ever before. Alerts warn us of objects in our blind spots; sophisticated infotainment systems facilitate communication at the touch of a button; automated features make it seem like a car could almost drive itself.

These features are designed to make driving safer – but are they working?

Too much trust in automation?

Recent research shows that automated features may not be as safe as people might think. In a small study, researchers found that drivers increasingly become distracted when a vehicle is equipped with driver assistance features. And the distraction becomes even more pronounced as drivers become more familiar with the systems.

The findings suggest that people may be putting too much trust in the automated features in their cars and trucks. Instead of paying attention and focusing on the road, drivers may be overly reliant on the vehicle to act for them.

Thus, drivers with newer vehicles can be more distracted and reckless behind the wheel than other motorists. And with this increased distraction comes an increased risk of a wreck.

Distracted drivers are dangerous drivers

Most drivers would never let go of the wheel and close their eyes while driving. However, that is essentially what people do when they turn their attention to a device or non-driving task.

For instance, a driver who is typing a text or opening the wrapping on a burger cannot react to a road hazard as quickly and safely as an attentive driver could. And scrolling through a music library or reaching in the back seat for something can make it all but impossible to safely operate a vehicle.

Driving a car with features like automatic braking does not give a motorist permission to stop paying attention to the road. This technology should augment safe driving habits, not replace them.

Unfortunately, too many drivers fail to recognize this and wind up causing a catastrophic wreck.

In these situations, victims of a distracted driver have options to pursue compensation for damages, as do their loved ones in the event of a fatal wreck. Of course, money is not going to undo injuries, but it can make it significantly easier for those affected by a negligent party to recover and move forward.