Auto Safety Features: The Good. The Helpful. The Annoying?

If you have purchased a car in the last four years, you’ve probably noticed several new features designed to help protect you on the roadway. And thanks to that advanced engineering and technology, today’s cars are safer than ever. (Having the right auto insurance can protect you on the road, too.)

An analysis by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) found that forward collision warning combined with automated emergency braking cuts front-to-rear crashes with injuries by more than half (56%).

However, a national survey by Erie Insurance found that not everyone is taking advantage of these new safety features.

According to the survey, which asked 500 U.S. licensed drivers ages 18 and older with vehicles made in 2016 and after, drivers are intentionally turning off or disabling these features that can ultimately help them avoid crashes.

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Erie Insurance conducted an online survey to see how people feel about the safety features available in newer cars. As people started hitting the road again, after the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, we asked travelers about the topic . Their thoughts aligned well with our survey results.

So, which features are drivers toggling off – and why? Keep reading to find out.

Control over convenience

The two features drivers were most likely to disable were ones designed to enhance their comfort and convenience.

The largest percentage of drivers surveyed (30%) said they had disabled adaptive cruise control, which keeps a vehicle a specific distance from the car in front of it by applying the brakes if it gets too close. The most cited reason for disabling this feature was, “I want to control the vehicle, not have the vehicle control itself.”

The second most disabled feature was lane keeping assist, which helps prevent the car from straying across lane markings by automatically making light braking or minor steering adjustments. Almost a quarter of drivers (23%) said they turned off lane keeping assist.

Most common reason for disabling: “annoyance”

In the survey, drivers said their most common reasons for turning off or disabling features is that they find them “annoying” or “distracting.”

Jon Bloom, vice president of personal auto at ERIE, said automakers are always working to refine and improve features. However, in some cases, drivers just need to learn how the feature works and get used to it.

“Ideally as features improve and drivers get more comfortable with them, using them will become second-nature the way seatbelts are today,” Bloom said. “The payoff could be huge in terms of reducing crashes and saving lives.”