Nearly half of Canadian drivers think vehicle safety technology poses a risk to road safety

Last updated: 11-30-2019

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Nearly half of Canadian drivers think vehicle safety technology poses a risk to road safety

Over-reliance on technology and lack of education cited as main factors

TORONTO, Nov. 27, 2019 /CNW Telbec/ - Your vehicle brakes automatically to avoid a collision. It beeps to warn you if there is a car in your blind spot. The steering wheel vibrates if you unintentionally drift out of your lane or start crossing lanes without signalling. A light flashes to warn you of a risk of frontal collision. These features are all designed to make driving safer, but nearly half of Canadian drivers also think they pose a risk to road safety, according to a recent survey released by Desjardins Insurance.

Increasingly, vehicles on our roads are equipped with highly sophisticated safety features to prevent crashes or warn drivers of unsafe conditions. While a majority of drivers agree that these safety features are needed to make our roads safer (51%), the survey data suggests more needs to be done to ensure drivers not only understand what these features are meant to do, but also what they don't guard against.

"While studies clearly show that crash avoidance and other safety systems in newer cars are reducing collisions and saving lives, the survey's findings are enough to give us pause. They are an important reminder that no matter how sophisticated the safety systems, the driver's vigilance and attention are essential to ensure safe driving, both for the people in the vehicle and those who share the road with motorists," said Alain Hade, Vice-President, Marketing and Member Client Experience at Desjardins Insurance.

Among the survey's highlights, it was found that:

However, the survey did reveal some positive points, including:

"It's important that driver knowledge of safety features and confidence in them is on the rise, particularly as they are exposed to features that are increasingly standard on new vehicles," said Robyn Robertson, President and CEO of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation. "Caution is warranted in the promotion of safety features and their benefits to ensure Canadians understand the functionality and limitations of them, and to discourage drivers from relying on them in situations for which they were not designed."

Are we ready for autonomous vehicles?With most car manufacturers expected to unveil semi- or fully autonomous vehicles in the not-too-distant future, it is clear Canadians are somewhat reluctant to fully embrace the technology. According to survey results, less than a third of Canadians who expressed an opinion on that matter (28%) say they would trust being driven in a fully autonomous vehicle.

"These results lead us to believe that people experienced with the technology have confidence in vehicle safety systems, but not blindly," added Hade. "Drivers need to be well informed about the car they're driving before getting behind the wheel. This means knowing what the features and technology can and cannot do. Safety technologies are important to prevent injuries and fatalities, but they also have limitations."

Impact on insuranceHalf (52%) believe the safety systems help reduce the number of crashes; however, they rely on costly electronic components and sensors that also have a direct impact on the cost of repairing a vehicle. Between 2009 and 2016, the average cost of a two-vehicle collision (at-fault and not-at-fault) jumped 30%.

About Desjardins Group Desjardins Group is the leading cooperative financial group in Canada and the fifth largest in the world, with assets of $312.7 billion. It has been rated one of Canada's Top 100 Employers by Mediacorp. To meet the diverse needs of its members and clients, Desjardins offers a full range of products and services to individuals and businesses through its extensive distribution network, online platforms and subsidiaries across Canada. Ranked among the World's Strongest Banks according to The Banker magazine, Desjardins has one of the highest capital ratios and credit ratings in the industry.

About the Traffic Injury Research FoundationEstablished in 1964, TIRF's mission is to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries. As a national, independent, charitable road safety institute, TIRF designs, promotes, and implements effective programs and policies, based on sound research. TIRF is a registered charity and depends on grants, contracts, and donations to provide services for the public. Visit the TIRF online at www.tirf.ca. 

For further information: (media inquiries only) Joe Daly, Media Relations, Desjardins Insurance, 905-306-3300 or 1-877-306-5252, ext. 5515305, media@desjardins.com


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