Drivers disable potentially life-saving safety features

Taking Action

HENRICO, Va. (WRIC) — Get behind the wheel of a new car today and you might be amazed by all of the high-tech safety features.

From lane departure warnings to blind spot monitoring, your car can keep you alert. Yet, a new national survey finds many drivers are intentionally turning off the safety systems in their cars.

Vincent Conigliaro, the owner of Dr. Auto in Henrico County, doesn’t understand it but says he sees it all the time.

“I am surprised people have these features, pay all this money for these cars and don’t take advantage of what they have,” he said.

Drivers go into their settings on the dashboard and actively turn off safety features in their car that could help them avoid crashes. “They get annoyed by the noise, the beeps,” Conigliaro told 8News. He said some even say they have been startled by the alerts.

“People really want to be in control of the vehicle rather than the vehicle in control of them,” Jon Bloom, the vice president of Personal Auto for Erie Insurance, said.

Erie Insurance recently conducted the national survey and found a large percentage of drivers had disabled some of the 11 most commonly available safety systems in newer cars. We’re talking about features like lane departure warnings, which provide audible alerts and vibrations should you start to drift or doze off.

“It’s new technology. It’s supposed to be safer for all of us,” Conigliaro said.

The least popular safety feature by far was adaptive cruise control. Thirty percent of those surveyed said they turned off the feature which keeps your vehicle a specific distance from the car in front of you and applies the brakes should it get to close. 

Drivers are also disabling pedestrian detection systems, blind spot monitoring, forward collision warnings and automated emergency braking.

“The emergency braking is very important,” Conigliaro explained. “We had somebody cut us off and all of a sudden a light came on it and it said brake, the car automatically broke.”

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute, it can dramatically reduce front to rear crashes with injuries. “The combination of forward collision warning and emergency braking has been shown reduces crashes in excess of 50 percent,” Bloom told 8News.

So if those beeps and alerts aren’t sounding that annoying anymore, Conigliaro says it’s easy to turn them back on. “Every owner’s manual will tell you how to do it,” he said.

Bloom urges drivers to rethink those safety features. “Give them a chance because they do reduce crashes and they save lives.” There are also a lot of YouTube videos out there that can guide you through adjusting the features to your liking.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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