Drivers who rely on high-tech driving features getting into accidents

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The roads are crowded this time of year as people rush to get last minute shopping trips out of the way. Our traffic reporter Leslee Lacey spoke with the Florida Highway Patrol and found many people are depending too much on their vehicles to navigate safely in parking lots and on the roads.

Troopers tell Leslee there is a growing trend with drivers playing the blame game when it comes to accidents. Many are shirking responsibility and pointing the finger at their vehicles, not their own bad decisions.

Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Ken Watson has noticed the problem. “What is happening is people are relying 100 percent on the new accessories that these vehicles have.”

Leslee went to Brandon Auto Mall and took a look at one of the top vehicles when it comes to safety features. The Alpha Romeo Giulia earned the top Safety Pick by the International Institute of Highway Safety in 2017 and is loaded with high-tech features to assist drivers.

Brandon Auto Mall representative Alex Boghich showed Leslee the rear park assist and back up camera. The vehicle also beeps when an object becomes too close to the back of the car. The camera has directional lines that move with the car to help with backing out.

Trooper Watson says some people are relying too much on these cameras and are forgetting to turn their neck and look behind them, especially in parking lots. “That seems to be the catch all right now, where people are making mistakes by not using those mirrors.”

The Giulia also has blind spot alert for lane changes. A small triangle lights up when a vehicle is located in a driver’s blind spot.

Trooper Watson says this feature is also trusted too much by some drivers. “On the highway it is lane departure devices where people are going to assume, I am just going to go ahead and make that lane change because my vehicle didn’t tell me someone is in the lane adjacent to me. And then they end up side swiping someone.”

There is a forward collision alert that uses sonar and radar. Trooper Watson says it’s a great feature, but he also said a driver’s reaction time may not be quick enough to stop the vehicle in time, even with those added features.

“They are using radar Doppler radar just like you use in your newsroom, however when two vehicles are moving that Doppler is coming twice as fast that radar by the time it goes off you will not have time to slow down, again it is here to assist.”

Boghich says the new safety features that are coming out in vehicles like the Giulia, are an excellent way to assist drivers, but he agrees they shouldn’t replace turning your head, using your eyes and making good decisions.  “That’s why it’s called assist,” said Boghich.

Trooper Watson added, “Remember if you hit somebody. And the trooper shows up and you are trying to explain, the car doesn’t get the citation, you do.”

A moving violation will likely set you back $166.

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