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Motorist ‘carcooning’ effect endangering other road users

Car safety campaigners have claimed that motorists are becoming so dependent on in-car safety systems that they are losing touch with just how dangerous their vehicles can be.

The active safety systems inside many cars actually contribute to accidents, some suggest.
The active safety systems inside many cars actually contribute to accidents, some suggest.

Motorists now feel so safe in their cars that they’re becoming increasingly oblivious to cyclists, paying less attention to pedestrians, taking more risks and ultimately causing a greater number of casualties on our roads, safety experts suggest.

According to the latest figures from the Department of Transport, the number of cyclists killed or badly hurt by motorists hit 6,020 in the last 12 months ending in March — a rise of 11 per cent from 2010 to 2011.

Motorcyclists and pedestrians are also seeing a jump in casualty figures. Both saw a six per cent increase during the same time period.

Robert Gifford, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Committee for Transport Safety, told the Telegraph: “Perhaps what we are seeing here is ‘carcooning’ effect — that car drivers sitting in increasingly safer cars have less concern for the vulnerable road users around them.”

‘Carcooning’, a term coined by university of Reading psychologist Professor Frank McKenna, refers to drivers becoming less in tune and aware of their surroundings because of sophisticated safety equipment like airbags and blind-spot detection systems.

Simon Best, chief executive of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, has called for changes to the driving test to help drivers become more of their surroundings. “It is unacceptable that road deaths and serious injuries have risen for children, pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists,” he said.

“Cutting road safety education, scrapping casualty targets and cuts in council spending all suggest this isn’t a major priority. The Government needs to show much greater leadership on road safety.”

The DoT research also found drink-driving deaths have increased from 250 cases to 280, and the overall figure of injuries had increased from 8,210 to 8,430 — the first rise since 2002.

Do you believe active safety systems are making drivers more reckless? If so, aren’t these systems surely preventing more injuries than they’re causing through driver negligence? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: The Telegraph

Image: Car Advice

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