RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Better technology in your vehicle could be making you into a worse driver. Some people are relying too much on those fancy new bells and whistles.

“Technology supports us as humans, it doesn’t replace us,” says Martha Meade, the government affairs and public relations manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

That’s something that gets lost in the mix as people are buying or leasing new cars with fancy new technology built in. From crash avoidance braking to lane departure warnings and even side view cameras, cars are getting smarter.

“If it was on all vehicles, it could prevent about 2.7 million crashes a year, 1.1 million injuries, and save 10,000 people,” says Meade.

Some of that technology that’s becoming standard: backup cameras. When you put the car in reverse, you can see what’s directly behind you in the blind spot before you back up. The problem is that many people are relying only on this technology.

“The backup will see behind the bumper,” says Meade “it won’t see what’s coming by, what’s in the peripheral. It won’t show you what the old-fashioned head check will do.”

Meade has been studying these changing driver behaviors; she recently took part in the Governor’s Transportation Conference to talk about the concerns.

A recent study found that 80 percent of drivers didn’t understand the limitations to blind spot monitoring technology but were relying solely on that for their safety.

“They can’t alert you to cars going extremely fast beside in your blind spot,” says Meade. “And not always pedestrians or bicyclists.”

People we talked to, admit the technology has changed the way they drive.

“It’s definitely nice to have,” says Sydney Gunn-Teran. “But I’m dependent on those side view alerts that blink at me beep at me when someone is in my blind spot. I’ve definitely stopped looking as much as I used too.”

The fear is that these technologies that were created to put the brakes on crashes and highway deaths, might be giving drivers a false sense of security that’s actually leading to more distracted driving.

“They are comfortable relying on it 100 percent even though they don’t understand what it won’t do,” Meade explained. “And therefore are more comfortable doing other things in the car.”

Studies have found that car makers using different names for similar technology has led to some confusion on system limitations, too. Ask your dealer to demonstrate the system if you have questions.

You can read more about the different technologies and what they can and can’t do here. And here’s more on the research about confusion over the technology.

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