Should This Safety System Be Turned Off While Driving?

Like about half of all drivers, I turned off an important, though irritating, safety feature in my car this weekend.

The incessant beeping of the lane-departure warning system routinely woke up my sleeping family as I drove home from a downtown event on Sunday. The shrill, fast series of beeps emanating from my Subaru is supposed to alert the driver that he or she is drifting outside of the lane, but somehow, on this drive, the system was picking up ruts in the highway instead of the painted lane markings and chirping in short bursts every 15 seconds.

I figured I had lived without the warning system for the first 20 years of my driving life, so I could probably make it the last few miles home without one.

And I did, with the family sleeping peacefully.

Timing is a funny thing, though, because the next day CNN published an article about how many crashes such systems have prevented and then warned against ever turning it off.

As if the article was speaking directly to me, CNN said,

You might get annoyed when your car beeps or buzzes at you when you’re starting to drift out of your lane but, whatever you do, don’t just turn those alerts off. A new study shows that the technology prevents lots of potentially serious crashes.

Lane departure warning systems use an audible tone or steering wheel or seat vibrations to warn drivers when when their car is drifting out of its lane. The technology reduces sideswipe and head-on crashes that result in injuries by about 21%, according to a new study the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Touche, CNN.

The article did say that about half of people who own cars equipped with a lane-departure warning system turn them off, so the potential for reduced crashes is even greater.

The system is an absolute must and acts as a backup against drowsiness or lazy driving on long drives when I’m alone. I’ll probably continue to disable the system, though, on those short trips home when everyone is sleeping and I’m wide awake.

Sometimes, driving like it’s 1997 is just far more relaxing.

Do you drive a car equipped with a lane-departure warning system? If not, do you want one?

-tgriffith

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