How Driving Technologies Make Cars Safer and Save You Money

Last Updated: 4/1/2022
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Automotive technology has evolved tremendously throughout the years. These advances have aimed to address specific environmental and vehicle safety concerns and to increase technological innovations. Some of the most popular driving technologies on the market today include Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), connected mobile apps and digital keys.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) presumes that drivers can enjoy more safety benefits as manufacturers increasingly incorporate technology in their vehicles. And while you may think this would decrease car insurance premiums, it may be the other way around. ADAS may reduce the probability of crashes, but the cost of repairs is higher if it does happen.

What Is Driving Technology?

Car manufacturers have begun introducing a wide variety of technological features. It’s likely you’ll find computers and sensors in your vehicle. These are slowly taking the place of mechanical parts. Driving technology provides multiple benefits in the areas of safety and accessibility. For example, self-driving cars may further adapt a vehicle for people with disabilities, helping to create accessible driving options. However, the same progressive features may create challenges, especially in affordability and security.

A Historical Overview

Automobiles have come a long way since Karl Benz created his first one in 1885. However, it wasn’t until 1908 that the automotive revolution took place. Henry Ford turned the automobile from a luxury to a necessity by making it cheap, versatile and easy to maintain.

There are several milestones in automotive history. These include Volvo’s introduction of the seatbelt in 1959, General Motors’ inclusion of the first passenger airbag in 1973 and the arrival of the Prius with its gas-electric engine in 1997.

The rapid pace of technological evolution has made keyless entries, phone-to-car connectivity and artificial intelligence in cars possible. Driving has never been more convenient for people who regularly sit behind the wheel.

The 5 Levels of Autonomous Driving

One of the most significant technological evolutions is autonomous driving — when your vehicle drives you without you operating it. As of May 2021, there are no fully-automated vehicles in the U.S., but several partially-autonomous ones are already present. However, it’s important to note that all these still require a person behind the wheel, fully aware of his surroundings. When manufacturers produce cars meeting higher levels of autonomous driving, less human supervision will be required.

  • Level
    Automation Level
    Description
  • Level 0

    No Automation

    The driver controls everything about operating
    the vehicle. It includes steering, accelerating,
    braking and parking, among others.

    It may include technologies such as forward-
    collision warning, blind-spot warning and lane
    departure warning. All these are assistive but
    do not operate the car.

  • Level 1

    Driver Assistance

    At this level, the driver and technology share
    control of the car. For example, adaptive cruise
    control allows the vehicle to adjust
    acceleration and braking, but only the driver
    steers. Auto-parking is another Level 1 feature,
    allowing the car to control the steering, but the
    driver manages the speed.

  • Level 2

    Additional Assistance

    At this level, the driver still needs to be
    attentive and engaged. However, the available
    assistive features can work simultaneously.

    An example is the highway pilot feature, which
    controls the car’s acceleration, braking and
    steering when activated. However, the driver
    must be ready to take over the car’s controls
    at any time.

  • Level 3

    Conditional Automation

    Level 3 cars use a system that allows drivers to
    keep their eyes off the road because it's the
    vehicle that does the actual driving. It can
    even make situational decisions. However, if
    the system requests for the driver to take over,
    they must be able to do so.

  • Level 4

    High Automation

    At Level 4, your car can do all the driving but
    only for specific locations, such as geofenced
    areas or traffic jams. It’s also programmed to
    get to a safe zone if your environment doesn't
    meet these conditions. It is known as “mind-
    off” autonomy because a driver isn’t even
    needed, but you can still take control if you
    need to.

  • Level 5

    Full Automation

    Having a fully-automated vehicle means your
    car can drive itself with no options for you to
    take over. Although there are no Level 5
    vehicles presently, these probably won’t have
    steering wheels or pedals since they would no
    longer be required.

9 Latest Technologies That Will Change the Way You Drive

Although there are no fully automated cars on the road, several brands have Level 2 systems installed, such as Tesla’s Autopilot, GM’s Super Cruise and Nissan’s ProPilot. Their presence often impacts several areas, such as safety and cost. For example, the premiums for Tesla’s electric cars are higher than non-electric vehicles.

However, even if your car doesn’t operate at Level 2 autonomy yet, there are several driving technologies available that have changed the overall driving experience.

1

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)

These features help with driving and parking. Human error often contributes to traffic accidents. Tech, such as blind-spot alerts, forward-collision warnings and adaptive cruise control can help prevent crashes.

2

Connected mobile apps and digital keys

Most brands already have downloadable mobile apps that allow you to control some features of your car remotely. These include locking and unlocking your doors and checking your fuel level and tire pressure. For some, it’s even possible to start your vehicle using your phone.

3

Electric cars

Using a vehicle that doesn’t run gas can give several benefits. It’s cost-efficient, especially with the rising prices of fuel. You also help the environment since it can help reduce carbon emissions.

4

360-degree camera

More than just having a front and rear cameras that provide guidance when you park, a 360-degree one allows you to view your car from every side. It significantly reduces the probability of sustaining damages, saving you money on repairs.

5

Vehicle tracking software

More than 800 thousand vehicles were stolen in 2020. A tracking system allows law enforcement to find it within a shorter period. More advanced systems even have the capability of slowing down a stolen vehicle remotely and preventing it from restarting once shut off.

6

Blind-Spot View Monitor

This feature allows you to see the traffic in the lane next to you and comes in handy when you switch from one to the other. It lessens the chances of you hitting another vehicle, cyclist or pedestrian.

7

Teen driver tech

Drivers between 16- to 19-years-old are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as adults. Parents with teen drivers benefit the most from this feature. They receive notifications if the car is driven above a certain speed or disables the audio if the driver isn't using the seatbelt.

8

Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB)

Technology often reacts faster than people. When your car senses a collision, the brakes activate automatically, preventing potential crashes.

9

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in cars

AI is considered the secret to automated vehicles, especially for those that eventually meet the standards of Level 3 and above. However, even Level 1 and 2 vehicles also have it. As long as cars can make decisions that lead to warnings to automatic braking, you know that AI is at play.

An illustrative image of person who uses a wheelchair entering a car with assistive technology.

How Impactful Car Technology Really Is

A car is more than just a means to get from one point to another. The evolution of technology in the automotive industry has allowed drivers to have a more enjoyable, convenient and safe experience.

There’s no doubt that the advancement of driving technology provides multiple benefits. It's not only to those behind the wheel, but even to the environment. However, it’s best to be aware of both sides and understand the potential drawbacks it brings.

The Upsides and Downsides

Increased safety, security and convenience are the foremost advantages of advanced car technologies. However, it’s not without its disadvantages. Although it may provide an enhanced driving experience, it may open you to more expensive repairs, higher insurance premiums or cyber-security concerns. The following details the potential benefits and drawbacks of advanced driving technologies.

Key Takeaways

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THE UPSIDES
  • Lower probability of accidents. Most accidents involve a certain level of human error. Self-driving cars won’t be affected by distractions, stress or a driver’s physical state, resulting in a safer driving experience.
  • Stress-free parking. Presently, front and rear cameras allow you to better gauge how much space you have when parking, helping you avoid potential damage to your car. More advanced technology could mean dropping you off and driving to find its own parking space.
  • More environment friendly. Electric cars help you save without fuel costs. It also has a positive impact on the environment since it decreases emissions.
  • May result in fewer traffic jams. Whether it’s your car’s sensors at play or predictive technology, your car could accelerate and brake at the appropriate times, reducing road congestion. The present technology also allows you to determine the most efficient route to your destination, helping you avoid packed streets.
  • Increased accessibility. A person's physical ability has always been a primary requirement for driving. Car technologies have made it possible for senior citizens or persons with disabilities to get behind the wheel.
minusSign
THE DOWNSIDES
  • Low Affordability. The primary disadvantage of advanced car technology is cost. The average American family may not afford a vehicle with advanced driving technology.
  • Expensive insurance premiums. You’ll feel the increase in your expenses not only during your purchase but even when you insure a car with advanced driving technology. For example, drivers of electric vehicles pay 15% more for insurance than those with gas-powered ones.
  • Negative economic impact. Some jobs may become obsolete if fully-automated or driverless cars become a reality. Services provided by human drivers, whether rideshare or deliveries, will no longer be necessary.
  • Added distractions. Most cars are currently at Levels 1 or 2 of autonomous driving, which means that the driver still controls its operations. Enhanced display technology can pull the driver’s focus away from the road, resulting in distracted driving.
  • Hacking concerns. As with all technological things, it opens up the possibility of needing higher levels of cyber security. Hackers may target your system and gain access to your personal data.

How Automotive Technology Helps Drivers With Disabilities

Driving is now possible for people with disabilities because of the various innovations in cars. Modifications such as chair lifts and automatic doors provide much-needed assistance for drivers with physical disabilities.

Car technology also provides those with visual impairment opportunities to drive with features such as lane departure assist, a pre-collision system and cross-traffic warnings. NHTSA estimates the cost of modifying your car ranges from $20,000 to $80,000.

1

Hand controls

If you can’t use foot pedals, you can use hand controls to operate the car. Buttons and levers can be your primary instruments for braking and accelerating.

2

Automatic doors

This modification allows you to open your vehicle’s doors through a remote. It works best with lifts and ramps, which helps drivers who use mobility devices like wheelchairs.

3

Steering devices

There’s a wide array of options for this. They include knobs, floor-mounted steering and even amputee rings. Typically, the extent of your inability to use your hands will determine which is ideal for you.

4

Left-foot accelerators

Amputees benefit most from this feature. A left-foot pedal is installed, which prevents crossovers. Modifications to your braking and accelerating systems are also applied.

5

Lane departure warnings

This feature alerts the driver if the car senses that you’re drifting out of lanes, potentially causing a crash. It may assist drivers with neurological disabilities, such as mild dementia.

6

Backup cameras

Backing up and parking are difficult enough when you have clear eyesight. Imagine how challenging it is for those who are visually impaired. These can help older drivers have a clearer view of the space behind them.

An illustrative image of the differences between car with advanced technology and regular cars on the road.

How Driving Automation Will Lead To a Reduction in Accidents

Safety is one of the most significant impacts of advanced driving technology. Multiple conditions put drivers in accident-prone situations, such as driving at night, during winter or distracted driving.

But do driving technologies really keep roads safer? IIHS-HLDI’s study on the effects of blind-spot monitoring showed a 14% drop in crashes due to lane-changing. Although manufacturers haven't achieved higher levels of autonomous driving, we already have access to several driving advancements that may prevent accidents.

1

Automatic Emergency Braking System (AEBS)

Your car’s AEBS identifies when a collision is about to occur. It automatically activates your brakes, reducing your speed. The system attempts to slow you down to lessen the impact. Or, better yet, it tries to stop the car entirely to prevent a crash.

2

Adaptive headlights

These don’t automatically switch your lights from low beam to high beam — you control that. However, your headlights will move simultaneously with your steering wheel. It helps illuminate the road in front of you, especially when there are curves.

3

Forward-collision warning

Your car scans the area in front of it using sensors. It warns you if you’re about to collide with a slower-moving or stationary vehicle.

4

Drowsiness alert

Similar to the lane departure warning feature, the drowsiness alert tracks the lane markings so it can detect when you veer out of it. If you drift out of your lane multiple times in a short period, it will conclude that you’re drowsy and warn you to take a break. A more advanced system learns your usual patterns to distinguish them from irregular driving behavior.

5

Electronic stability control

Driving on a slippery road or taking sharp turns too fast may result in spin-outs and plow-outs. Your car’s EBS prevents you from losing control of it by adjusting your speed and selectively breaking some of your wheels. It also reduces the likelihood of a rollover.

6

Traction control

The feature keeps your wheels from over-spinning when you’re driving on slippery surfaces. Wheel slippage could cause you to lose control quickly and crash, so it’s best when it’s raining or snowing.

Is Having Car Safety Features Worth the Cost?

There’s no denying that having these safety features in your car brings significant advantages. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s study had the following results:

  • Forward collision warning in cars reduced rear-end crashes by 27%
  • If combined with automatic braking, the number increases to around 50%
  • Pedestrian-related insurance claims went down by 35% for Subaru vehicles using the eyesight system

However, these features require technology and expertise that increase costs. You can manage your expenses by limiting your car’s safety features to critical ones. But even if you trim it down to the essentials, it’ll still cost you more than your standard vehicle.

How Much Will It Cost You?

As of 2018, 90% of all new cars have one ADAS feature at least. Even if you limit your selection to those that lower the probability of crashes, expect to shell out a higher amount for repairs. That said, 60% of Millennials would choose to transfer to another brand if it offered the technology they wanted.

How Advanced Safety Tech Affects Car Repairs

Expenses related to car safety features don’t stop after your purchase — even your repair costs will increase. Most American families already find a $500 bill to be costly. However, according to AAA, a minor collision may require you to spend as much as $5,300. That’s a far cry from the amount you pay for similar repairs on a car without an ADAS system, which is only a little over $2,000.



Repairs for cars with advanced safety features cost three times more than vehicles without them. Regardless of whether the damage was to the car’s body or glass components, the same pattern emerges. Vehicles with ADAS also need to be recalibrated after repairs, which cost $250 at the very least. It also contributes to the difference in amounts.

Long-Term Safety and Financial Benefits

It’s better to think of advanced car technologies as investments. Although you might shell out a significant amount, they also bring long-term benefits to drivers. These may include efficiencies in your daily routines and potential savings in the long run.

  • This is an icon

    Accident reduction

    Safety features that warn drivers of possible collisions or the presence of pedestrians can lead to fewer accidents. In turn, you’ll spend less on repairs and may even see a decrease in your car insurance premium in the future.

  • This is an icon

    Travel efficiency

    Telematics, such as your GPS and navigation systems, allow you to determine the most efficient route from one point to another. Not only does this save you time, but it also lessens fuel consumption.

  • This is an icon

    Less fuel consumption

    Driving a hybrid or an electric car takes fuel out of the equation. It may mean that your expenses won’t increase significantly even if gas prices become more expensive.

How Technology Can Impact Your Auto Insurance

On average, the cost of insurance is $1,424 per year. However, your car’s make and model may have a considerable effect on it. For example, if you drive an electric vehicle, you typically pay 15% more for coverage annually. Your car’s cost of repairs also plays a part in insurance calculations. It means the more advanced features it has, the more expensive your premium may be.

That said, advanced driving technology can also help reduce insurance costs. It may allow you to qualify for multiple discounts. For example, GEICO offers a 23% discount if your car has airbags or an anti-theft system installed. Since most driving technologies prevent collisions from occurring, you may also qualify for a 22% discount if you remain accident-free for five years.

An illustrative image of how future car technology may look like.

Addressing Future Challenges

Although partially autonomous vehicles are gaining interest, it’s clear that this field still has a lot of room for development. With the way things currently stand, several challenges need to be addressed. These range from affordability and regulatory barriers to consumer acceptance. However, if these can be resolved, the full benefits of having autonomous vehicles on the road can be actualized.

1

Affordability

Currently, upgrading one or two of your car’s safety features already adds $1,500 to your expenses. Unless driving technologies become more affordable in the future, they'll remain accessible to a small percentage of the population.

2

Regulations

There needs to be a set of federal regulations since it affects both manufacturers and consumers. These must cover vehicle safety standards, data collection and liability issues. If an automated vehicle is involved in an accident, who is accountable? The owner or the manufacturer?

3

Consumer acceptance

Most people have had little to no chance of interacting with autonomous vehicles, contributing to the 71% of respondents who said they were afraid of riding in a fully self-driving car.

4

Ethical decision-making

With AI, vehicles will become capable of making decisions. Safety is a primary directive, which means it will most likely choose the option resulting in the fewest casualties. However, it won’t consider the presence of a spouse or a family member in these situations.

Expert Insight on the Impact of Advanced Features

MoneyGeek reached out to several experts to explore their insights on the benefits, challenges and impacts of driving technology.

  1. Which driving technology do you find most beneficial and why?
  2. Besides the cost of insurance, how else do driving technologies affect our lifestyle and financial decisions?
  3. What challenges do you foresee as more driving technologies are used?
Patrick McCann
Patrick McCann

Editor in Chief of WeTryTires.com

Adam Grant
Adam Grant

Founder of Car Fuel Advisor

Margarette Stine
Margarette Stine

Writer at 4WheelOnline

Resources for Driving Technology

The subject of driving technology is extensive. The following resources can help you learn more about AI, vehicle modification, new technology and more.

  • Adapting Motor Vehicles for People with Disabilities: Having a disability is no longer a reason to never experience being behind the wheel. NHTSA’s brochure walks you through the various areas to explore if you’re considering modifying your car.
  • Driving the Future of AV Regulations — Barriers to Large-Scale Development: There are several foreseeable challenges in the field of autonomous vehicles, regulation being one of them. This explores the various regulatory barriers to manufacturing, distributing and using Level 4 and 5 vehicles.
  • History of the Automobile: Understanding how cars first came to can help readers appreciate how far it’s been able to go. It will allow you to have a better appreciation for the recent technological features carried by present-day vehicles.
  • How to Get a Vehicle Modified: Ability Tools provide information on vehicle modification. These range from what to consider, which modifications to get, and how to secure funding.
  • The Impact of Technology on the Automotive Industry: Self-driving cars is only one manifestation of advanced car technologies. Other progressive steps include electric cars and the integration of the Internet of Things (IoT) and have affected the automotive industry in several ways.
  • U.S. Partnership Brings Self-Driving Technology to the Blind: Lyft and Aptive have partnered with the National Federation for the blind to see how technology can allow the visually impaired to experience driving. It brings Aptiv’s self-driving technology to Lyft riders.

About the Author


expert-profile

Mark Fitzpatrick is a senior content manager with MoneyGeek specializing in insurance. Mark has years of experience analyzing the insurance market and creating original research and content. He graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor of Arts and Johns Hopkins University with a Master of Arts.


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