Do Advanced Safety Features on Cars Have Drawbacks?

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What happens when you have a nice Audi and get into a fender-bender with another car. Not much damage, just a crunched grille and bumper, and some broken headlights. No worries, right? Not quite—that could cost over $15,000 and take three weeks in the shop to repair.

Why so expensive, you might be thinking, and justifiably so. Those sensors for the “advanced driver-assistance systems” make up a large portion of that repair cost. More and more cars are adopting these functions for automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warnings, adaptive cruise control, and lane-departure warnings.

But a recent study by the American Automobile Association (AAA) noted that the cost to repair minor collisions can be double that of vehicles without these features. Cameras, radar, and ultrasonic sensors are expensive additions to a car—for instance, replacing a cracked windshield that has a camera to assist you when you’re changing lanes can cost three times as much as a regular windshield. Also, these systems need calibration, which means the mechanics need extra training and special tools, and it takes them longer to complete these repairs. That puts the labor cost up as well.

But at what price safety, especially with the precious cargo of children on board? It doesn’t always have to be that expensive to repair, especially if you talk to your insurance agent and make sure you have the coverage required for your advanced vehicle. Also, make sure that the repair shop you choose has the right equipment and experience to fix your car properly.

It’s important to note that many drivers are not aware of how to use these systems correctly, which can actually lead to less-safe driving practices, like taking their eyes off the road while using the adaptive cruise control feature, or relying on the blind-spot warning system rather than actually double-checking that the lane was clear.

These systems aren’t fail-safe, and clearly, car dealerships and auto makers should do a better job at explaining how they work at the time of purchase. How many times have you looked at your car’s owner’s manual? Exactly our point.

Those who have responded to AAA surveys say that they want these features in their next car, and if they already have them, they recommend them to others.

Do you have these systems in your current car? If so, what do you like and/or dislike about them? Do you feel safer? Leave us a comment.

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