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Technology Does Not Prevent Lane-Change Accidents

Improper lane changes are one of the most common causes of motor vehicle accidents. As a result, many automakers are developing in-vehicle technology, such as blind spot monitoring systems and lane departure warning systems, designed to deter accidents.

While these high-tech systems have been shown to reduce crash risks, a recent study highlights that drivers must still do their part to verify the path is clear before changing lanes.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently tested blind spot monitoring systems, which use radar to warn drivers about potentially undetected vehicles in adjacent lanes, and lane departure warning systems, which send alerts when drivers drift out of their lanes. Almost 75 percent of 2014 vehicles offer blind-spot detection and 50 percent offering lane-departure warning as options.

While the study confirmed that the systems can be beneficial, it also revealed some significant limitations. Below are a few key findings, as summarized by AAA:

  • Blind-spot monitoring systems had difficulty detecting fast-moving vehicles – such as when merging onto a busy highway. Alerts were often provided too late for evasive action.
  • Motorcycles were detected by blind-spot monitoring systems 26 percent later than passenger vehicles.
  • Road conditions were often a problem for lane-departure warning systems. Worn pavement markers, construction zones and intersections can cause the lane-departure warning system to lose track of lane location.
  • The litany of alerts and warnings could be confusing. Auditory, visual or haptic responses – or a combination – could be similar to other advanced driver assistance features that delivered the same warnings.