Are Smarter Cars Making Drivers Worse?

Who doesn’t love the idea of a smart car? They’re comfortable, convenient, and make our lives easier. Yet there’s a growing concern that the latest generation of cars may just be training people to be worse drivers – and that’s dangerous.

Who can forget the headlines from 2020, when a Tesla user crashed their car because they were too busy watching a movie. While this may be a stand-out example, it does raise a very valid concern. 

The Intention Behind Smart Cars

Smart cars are designed for comfort, yes, but they are also designed for safety. That’s their primary goal. The whole push for self-driving vehicles has less to do with lazy drivers and more to do with eliminating human error.

According to studies, more than ninety percent of car crashes were caused by drivers. In other words, they were caused by human error. Naturally, this explains why car and insurance companies alike would be interested in developing safer tech.

How This Concept Can Backfire

So, given the altruistic intent behind smart cars, how is it possible that the idea is backfiring? It’s simple – people are getting distracted. We are not yet at a point where self-driving cars are easily accessible (or necessarily legal), and that means the current tech out there can create just as much of a distraction as anything.

People get distracted by all of the devices in their cars. They play with the radio, their phone, and now the new shiny tech that comes along for the ride. According to a study run by State Farm, these distractions are making us worse drivers.

Part of the problem stems from the fact that certain drivers rely too much on safety technology. Adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist tools are being abused so that people can multitask within the car. Until we hit a point where self-driving cars are a given – this is extremely dangerous. The result is a road full of dangerously distracted drivers. Even if these drivers are in the minority, plenty of drivers are still too distracted by their phones

The Solution

Like many problems in the automotive industry, the solution comes down to regulation. More and more states are outlawing cell phones in cars – and that is just the first step in the process. Regulating these distractions is unfortunately essential, but that’s not the only step.

The other part of this process is education. Drivers need to be made more aware of the risk they take when doing this – and what it can cost. The automotive industry can get involved in this process by developing technology that discourages phone use and the like, much like the push towards seatbelts.