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AAA Foundation: lane-keeping assist, other features can distract

Distracted driving is an issue that many drivers in California have to contend with, but it's not just phones and touchscreens that have proven to be distracting. Researchers with the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analyzed the safety features on a number of newer vehicles, including the Tesla Model S, Acura MDX, Ford Fusion and Honda Accord, and they found that two features in particular can cause many to become inattentive behind the wheel.

The two features of concern are adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist. The former maintains a safe following distance by accelerating and decelerating without driver input while the latter tugs at the steering wheel when the car drifts out of its lane. Both features still require drivers to be alert and have control over the steering wheel. Unfortunately, many drivers do not know this.

The AAA Foundation study found that drivers less familiar with these two safety features are at a lower risk for driving distracted. Those more familiar with them tend to overestimate their ability, and many drivers act as if the features make their car self-driving.

The reality, of course, is that safety features cannot make sophisticated decisions for drivers. The study has called on automakers to educate car owners about the limitations of current safety technology.

When car collisions arise because drivers are distracted, then those who are injured can file a claim and be compensated for their losses, including medical expenses and lost wages. They may want a lawyer to assess their case, though. If victims decide to retain the lawyer, he or she may assist with filing the claim and negotiating a settlement. Auto insurance companies can be aggressive in denying payment, but a lawyer might foresee their tactics. As a last resort, the lawyer may take the case to court.

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