Are Our Cars Making Us Worse Drivers?

Are Cars Making Us Worse Drivers? As cars have evolved, it’s apparent that these changes may be making us worse drivers. Whether due to new technological features, advances in sustainability, or increasing vehicle sizes, our cars  are affecting our driving habits, leading to more injuries and fatalities in Vancouver, WA, and across the country.

According to a recent article published by Axios, traffic fatalities in the state of Washington increased by 11 percent in 2023, while the national fatalities decreased by almost four percent. There are likely many reasons for this, but one of the main culprits behind this increase is the powerful machine that we drive every day. Below, we will go over some of the various ways that our cars are making us worse drivers.

  • New technological features: Modern cars often come equipped with advanced automated technology, assisting with tasks such as parking and backing up. While convenient, many drivers overly rely on these systems, diverting their attention from the road. According to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a significant percentage of drivers treat vehicles with automated technology as full self-driving, despite multiple warnings about the limitations of these systems. In the study, it was found that 12 percent of ProPILOT Assist users, 42 percent of Autopilot users, and 53 percent of Super Cruise users stated that they “were comfortable treating their vehicles as self-driving.” The IIHS president, David Harkey, said that this shows that individuals “still have a poor understanding of the technology’s limits.”
  • Advances to sustainable and environmentally friendly driving: Washington residents have taken a stand in creating a sustainable and environmentally friendly area. Therefore, many drivers have opted for electric vehicles over gasoline vehicles to lower their carbon footprint. However, these vehicles pose unique risks. For example, electric cars can accelerate rapidly and operate more quietly than gasoline powered cars, which can surprise pedestrians, bicyclists, and other drivers, leading to accidents. Additionally, the silent operation of electric cars can be particularly hazardous in low-visibility conditions common in the area.
  • Vehicle size trends: The trend towards larger, bulkier vehicles also contributes to driving challenges. Larger vehicles may provide a sense of increased safety for their occupants, potentially leading to more reckless driving behavior. Drivers of large trucks and SUV’s may feel overconfident, believing their size will protect them in a crash, which can result to less cautious driving.

Do larger cars make us “jerks”?

They may, if they’re nicer cars. Business Insider reports that “studies show that driving turns people into jerks — and the nicer the car, the worse the driver.” There may be some truth to this, actually: The Atlantic reported on it in 2013.

What larger cars can do, however, is make us more likely to take risks. Researched published in Springer Nature in 2022 suggests the “car cushion hypothesis” – that larger vehicles make us feel more safe and secure, like we have a protective “cushion” – is real. Larger cars often lead to more dangerous behavior.

Whether or not this is empirically true, we don’t know. What we do know is that larger cars are much deadlier for pedestrians, yet that doesn’t stop anyone from buying them.

Have we become too comfortable while driving?

An article by The Zebra highlights that despite the advancement in vehicle technology, drivers have become too comfortable behind the wheel. This comfort has led to a range of dangerous behaviors, including distracted driving, speeding, and driving under the influence. The mindset that accidents are unlikely to happen encourages reckless and careless driving. Addressing this psychological comfort requires increasing awareness, providing education, and encouraging behavior change among drivers.

At Philbrook Law Office, we take all types of car accidents seriously. If you sustained injuries from a car accident with a negligent driver, our team want sot help. We would be glad to sit down and listen to your experience, inform you of your rights, gather evidence to support your side of the story, and help you take legal action to get the compensation you deserve. Call our office or submit our contact form today to schedule a free consultation with one of our car accident attorneys in Battle Ground or Vancouver, WA at no cost to you. We also serve Oregon clients for your convenience.