Advanced Driver Assistance System safety technologies in new cars have the potential to save thousands of lives every year, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The technologies include autonomous braking, forward-collision warning and blind-spot monitoring. But drivers who buy these systems seem to rely on them too much and are unaware of their limitations, the AAA says.

Nationally, there are about 40,000 fatal crashes a year, said AAA Mid-Atlantic's spokeswoman, Tracy Noble. Most of them are preventable. In New Jersey, there were 273,473 traffic crashes in 2016 alone, resulting in 570 people killed and 62,690 people injured, according to the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

With this technology there is the potential to eliminate more than 2 million crashes per year, to eliminate more than 1 million injuries a year and to eliminate almost 10,000 deaths per year, Nobile said.

"But a lot of times, drivers are relying too heavily on the technology and are getting away from basic driving practices," said Noble.

She said people need to be aware that there are limitations to these technologies, especially the blind-spot monitoring. That is when a motorist is driving next to another car and sees a yellow light come on in the rear-view mirror, alerting the driver it's not safe to change lanes.

But blind-spot monitoring does not always recognize smaller objects that could be present such as pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists. Noble said despite the technology, a driver still needs to look toward the blind spot.

Noble stressed drivers need to be focused and engaged at all times behind the wheel.

AAA said it would like to see more engagement from the car dealerships when it comes to improving the usage of these safety technology features. Noble said it would be great if dealerships took the time to go over the new features so motorists better understood the technology that's in their car.

For example, with lane departure warnings, Noble said, people feel a vibration in their steering wheel — which could catch someone off guard if that driver is not prepared for it. Drivers have the option to turn that feature off in their vehicles, but many don't know how to do it, Noble said.

As always, she said, it's wise to read the owner's manual to learn about the safety systems installed in your car and be an informed buyer. Ask questions before leaving the dealership.

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