Vehicle Safety Tech Saves Lives, But Confusion and Cost Cause Trouble

Motor vehicle safety features have come a long way, especially in the last 20 years. From seatbelts and airbags meant to minimize injury during a crash to advanced driver-assist technology geared toward avoiding collisions altogether, cars seem to get safer every year.

Last month a small study suggested that young drivers had difficulty identifying a relatively old safety feature – the tire pressure indicator light. And while some people had a laugh at the expense of Millennials (by the way, low or uneven tire pressure can be extremely dangerous), the broader problem of consumer awareness of emerging vehicle technology is very real. Car makers have given different names to features that are similar or identical to features on cars made by other companies. And common safety features such as all-wheel drive may not appear on all trim levels of a particular model, meaning that SUV you rented might not be as capable as you thought. And when these advanced systems need to be serviced or repaired, the cost can be prohibitive for many owners resulting in the work going undone (and the safety feature neutralized).

Although vehicle safety is getting better, crashes still happen and serious injuries and deaths do occur. As self-driving cars continue to be developed, human involvement may be more important than ever. Drivers, manufacturers, and dealers have to work together to understand new technology, when it does and does not work, and which vehicles have which features.