What if Vehicle Safety Features Fail?

Auto makers are continually improving and refining vehicle safety technology, and it has saved countless lives. Sometimes drivers wonder if there’s a way to verify it will do its job in an accident. No one wants to find out their airbags or stability control doesn’t work during a collision.

And even when they do work, safety features can sometimes do more harm than good. A recent AAA report found active driving assistance systems can actually cause problems, not avoid them. Here’s what you need to know.

Common Vehicle Safety Features List

A decade ago if you asked someone to name vehicle safety features they might have mentioned anti-lock brakes or seatbelts. Now cars come with features and technology suites that allow them to literally drive themselves. Here’s a list of some of the most common types of safety equipment.

  • Adaptive cruise control – If traffic ahead slows or stops, this system allows your vehicle to adjust speed.
  • Airbags – front and side airbags deploy rapidly when triggered by crash sensors.
  • Antilock brakes – ABS maximize braking at individual wheels and works to prevent lock-up.
  • Automatic Emergency Braking – AEB detects potential hazards and automatically applies the brakes to avoid a collision.
  • Automatic high beams – This feature adjusts headlights depending on traffic and visibility.
  • Blind spot warning – BSW alerts drivers to objects or people in blind spots.
  • Driver attention monitoring – This system monitors for drowsy or distracted driving.
  • Forward Collision Warning – Vehicles equipped with FCW alert drivers of pedestrians or objects in their path.
  • Lane Departure Warning – If drivers drift from their lane, equipped vehicles issue an alert.
  • Lane Assist – Vehicles with this option temporarily take over steering if they detect an unintended lane departure.
  • Park assist – This allows vehicles to detect parking capability and guide drivers safely into a space.
  • Pedestrian detection – These cameras watch for people walking or riding a bicycle.

The Dangers of Safety Equipment

There’s no question that safety features save lives. They can also cause problems. One of the most common issues happens when airbags deploy. They inflate in milliseconds, and their rapid action can cause injury, sometimes even death. Drivers frequently experience bruises, abrasions and friction burns. Children 12 and under should never sit in the front, because a rapidly deploying airbag could cause decapitation.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives these examples as safety-related:

  • Steering components that break, causing loss of vehicle control
  • Air bags that deploy when they shouldn’t
  • Wiring system issues that cause fire
  • Critical components that break, fall apart or separate from the vehicle, causing loss of control or injury
  • Accelerator controls that stick or break

Recently, AAA automotive researchers studied vehicles with active driving assistance systems and found that over 4,000 miles of real-world driving, vehicles had issues on an average of every eight miles. Issues included coming too close to other cars or to guardrails, leaving the correct lane, erratic positioning and suddenly disengaging. Perhaps most alarming is the fact that in test scenarios, when active driving assistance equipped vehicles approached a simulated disabled vehicle, a collision occurred 66 percent of the time.

If a Malfunction Caused Your Accident

If you’ve been injured in a car wreck and malfunctioning equipment was a contributing factor, whether it was your vehicle or the other driver’s that had the problem, we can help. Schedule a complimentary consultation with our personal injury attorneys today.