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Autopilot features in cars don't let drivers off the hook

We have been reading about the promise of driver-less cars for years. And while we are closer than we've ever been to this type of technology, we are still quite a ways away from being able to jump in the car and nap or read our way through a road trip.

In fact, the current state of automatic operation in cars may actually require that drivers pay more attention to driving, not less. Below, we examine a few reasons why we need to remain cautious and vigilant when it comes to self-driving features in cars.

Auto-driving features are not as advanced as we may think

As this report in Business Insider points out, certain features in vehicles may be giving drivers a false sense of security, which could ultimately lead to more crashes than you might expect. 

In the article, the author notes that the autopilot feature in one car, the Tesla, behaves more like cruise control than autopilot. However, people who fail to recognize the limitations of these features may not appreciate the attentive role they must continue to play in the operation of the vehicle.

There is a learning curve for new technologies

People don't always adapt to new technology right away. We have to learn how to navigate the various systems, translate warning messages and figure out how to perform tasks efficiently and properly. This takes time to learn.

In other words, we are not at the point where every person can get in a car with self-operating features and intuitively know what to do. People need to learn and practice in order to figure out what everything does and means, which is mentally demanding. 

No one -- and no car -- is immune to accidents

Whether you are behind the wheel of a new Tesla or a 10-year-old sedan, your safety is not just in your hands; it is also in the hands of every other motorist around you. And that is not likely to change in the foreseeable future. For the time being, drivers have a responsibility to be safe and attentive at all times behind the wheel. When they are not, they can and should be held accountable for the consequences.

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