In December 2019, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released the results of a study it conducted on various car safety features. It found that two features in particular can be misused by drivers and raise their risk for a crash. Drivers in North Carolina should know what these two features are.

The first is adaptive cruise control, a feature that automatically accelerates and slows the car down to maintain a safe following distance. The second is lane-keeping assist, which tugs at the steering wheel whenever the car is in danger of veering out of its lane.

The issue is that both features still require drivers to be alert and have both hands on the steering wheel. Distraction increases because drivers are unaware of this requirement and overestimate the abilities of this technology. Ironically, drivers who were less familiar with the two features were less likely to drive distracted, according to the study.

Researchers stress the fact that this does not make the safety features inherently dangerous. It simply means automakers must better educate car owners. Contrary to the claims made about self-driving cars, this tech cannot make sophisticated decisions on the road. For their study, researchers looked at a wide range of vehicles, including the Tesla Model S, Acura MDX, Jeep Cherokee and Ford Fusion.

Distracted driving is a serious form of negligence whether it arises from phone use or over-reliance on safety tech, and if a distracted driving crash results in personal injury, victims may have grounds for a claim. North Carolina follows the strict rule of contributory negligence, which means plaintiffs in a car accident case cannot be compensated if they are so much as 1% at fault. It may be wise, then, to have a lawyer evaluate the case.