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Photo of attorneys David F. Fessler, Joseph F. Grimme and Timothy E. Schneider

How car safety tech struggles in bad weather

On Behalf of | Dec 8, 2022 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

While inclement winter weather may not be as serious in Kentucky as in Northern Vermont or Minnesota, it still increases traffic collisions. As temperatures drop and snow or ice accumulates on the roads, many people have a harder time safely and responsibly driving.

Beyond the lack of winter driving practice, they may depend on safety technology integrated into their vehicles that will not function properly in snow or heavy rain. How does winter weather affect the functioning of modern vehicle safety systems?

Automatic emergency braking won’t work during rain

According to research performed by AAA, the automatic emergency braking systems installed in vehicles to help prevent rear-end collisions do not work as well in rainy weather, which also likely means they are less effective in snowy weather.

AAA used simulated rainfall and test vehicles to establish that at just 35 miles an hour, automatic emergency braking fails one out of three times. Those who depend on their vehicle to identify collision risks to the front may end up at fault for a crash when their vehicle does not use emergency braking to slow or stop them in time.

Lane assistance does not work during heavy precipitation either

Many newer vehicles have cameras and sensors that alert drivers when they veer out of their lane, whether they cross over onto the shoulder or into the other traffic lane. The rain-related failure rate for lane assistance is even higher than the failure rate for emergency braking systems. Researchers for AAA found that lane-keeping assistance failed 69% of the time in simulated rain on their closed course.

No automatic system knows the situation better than a driver

While people have very optimistic ideas about what safety technology can do for vehicles, there are still significant limitations that manufacturers have yet to address. The failure to test these systems in inclement weather and to provide alternate programming or settings during snowy or rainy weather might mean that people become dependent on technology that will not operate as it should in certain weather conditions.

Typically, those hurt in a car crash have limited options, including an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit. However, if a vehicle’s systems do not operate as intended and contribute to a crash, there may be grounds for a third-party claim against a manufacturer. Learning about known causes of major car crashes will help keep you safer this winter on Kentucky roads.