When you walk onto the shiny floor of an Independence new car dealership, you’re going to be shown equally shiny vehicles sporting a variety of high-tech safety features. Salespeople will still talk about nicely appointed interiors, gas mileage, towing capability and more, but safety features have become one of the top selling points.
Among the features they’ll woo you with are automatic emergency braking (including sensors to detect pedestrians and cyclists), automatic high-beam headlights (also with pedestrian detection in mind), blind-sport warning, lane-departure warning that signals when your car drifts across a road stripe, lane-keeping assist (helps center your car between road stripes), rear cross-path detection that senses vehicles coming from behind and pedestrians behind your car.
The goal of all those features is to help you avoid motor vehicle accidents, and if that’s not possible, to minimize the severity of injuries to you and your passengers.
Unfortunately, there are also a few features that you’ll be shown that increase the risk of involvement in a crash. According to a recent report by Money Talks News, “safety is the most important feature of any car,” but automakers include features that make driving riskier rather than safer.
Red turn signals
Virtually every vehicle in Missouri and across the U.S. has red-colored turn signals in back. Yet the National Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that amber signals result in fewer rear-end collisions.
Why are red turn signals allowed? Consumer Reports lists three possibilities: design aesthetics and the reality that changing auto standards would require “rigorous scrutiny of cost vs. benefit.”
If you drive a dark car, SUV, pick-up or van, its color could put you and your passengers at greater risk of being in a wreck.
A 2003 study in the British Medical Journal found that there’s “a significant increased risk of a serious injury in brown vehicles.” Researchers also noted a heightened hazard for black or green vehicles as well.
A 2007 Australian study found that dark colors and colors “with low contrast to the road environment” are at “a higher crash risk, particularly in daylight hours.”
Everyone loves the convenience of navigation systems, but a 2017 AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study found serious drawbacks to the systems, including the simple act of entering an address. Entering an address while driving takes an average of 40 seconds, researchers found. Even if you’re going just 25 mph at the time, you will have traveled the length of four football fields, all with your eyes on the navigation system rather than on the road and traffic.
Of course, there are also problems when using that screen for infotainment, the AAA Foundation determined. Researchers asked participants to use voice commands and touchscreens to carry out three different tasks:
- Make a call
- Send a text
- Tune the radio
Thirty infotainment systems were tested, with 23 systems commanding high or very high degree of driver attention. AAA researchers found that most of the systems could “easily be made safer” by preventing texting, the use of social media and programming the navigation feature while the vehicle is in motion.
Everyone who is injured in a motor vehicle wreck caused by a distracted driver has the right to pursue full and fair compensation for damages with the help of legal representation.