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September 26, 2018
AAA: Drivers Rely Too Heavily on New Vehicle Safety Technologies

Misunderstanding, misuse of driver assistance technology could lead to a crash
 

While advanced driver assistance systems are becoming commonplace in new vehicles, many consumers are unaware of the limitations of the systems, putting themselves and others at risk.
 
According to a new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drivers are recognizing the value in having vehicles with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), like blind spot monitoring systems, forward collision warning and lane keeping assist. However, while many of these technologies are rapidly being offered as standard, many drivers are unaware of the safety limitations of the systems in their vehicles. Lack of understanding or confusion can lead to misuse and overreliance on the systems.

“When properly utilized, ADAS technologies have the potential to prevent 40 percent of all vehicle crashes and nearly 30 percent of traffic deaths. However, driver understanding and proper use is crucial in reaping the full safety benefits of these systems,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Findings from this new research show that there is still a lot of work to be done in educating drivers about proper use of ADAS technologies and their limitations.”
 
In 2016, more than 37,400 people were killed in traffic crashes- a five percent increase from 2015.

"ADAS technologies offer motorists an extra measure of safety when properly used," said Gene LaDoucer, North Dakkota spokesman for AAA-The Auto Club Group. "However, it's important to realize they do not replace sound driving decisions. AAA urges motorists to take charge of learning their vehicle technology’s functions and limitations in order to improve safety on the road.”

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety commissioned researchers from the University of Iowa to survey drivers who recently purchased a 2016 or 2017 model-year vehicle with ADAS technologies. Researchers evaluated drivers’ opinions, awareness and understanding of these technologies and found that most did not know or understand the limitations of the systems:

  • Blind spot monitoring: 80 percent of drivers did not know the technology’s limitations or incorrectly believed that the systems could monitor the roadway behind the vehicle or reliably detect bicycles, pedestrians and vehicles passing at high speeds.
  • Forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking: Nearly 40 percent of drivers did not know the system’s limitations, or confused the two technologies- incorrectly reporting that forward collision warning could apply the brakes in the case of an emergency when the technology is only designed to deliver a warning signal. Moreover, roughly one in six vehicle owners in the survey reported that they did not know whether or not their vehicle was equipped with automatic emergency braking.

False expectations for ADAS systems can easily lead to misuse of the technology or an increase in driver distraction. In the survey:

  • About 25 percent of drivers using blind spot monitoring or rear cross traffic alert systems report feeling comfortable relying solely on the systems and not performing visual checks or looking over their shoulder for oncoming traffic or pedestrians.
  • About 25 percent of vehicle owners using forward collision warning or lane departure warning systems report feeling comfortable engaging in other tasks while driving.

“New vehicle safety technology is designed to make driving safer, but it does not replace the important role each of us plays behind the wheel,” Yang continued. “The prospect of self-driving cars is exciting, but we aren’t there yet. Automakers have an ethical and important responsibility to accurately market, and to carefully educate consumers about the technologies we purchase in the vehicles we drive off the lot.”
 
As part of its ongoing traffic safety mission, new AAA Foundation research also evaluated the potential these popular advanced driver assistance technologies have in helping to reduce or prevent crashes. The findings show that if installed on all vehicles, ADAS technologies can potentially prevent more than 2.7 million crashes, 1.1 million injuries and nearly 9,500 deaths each year:

ADAS Systems Crashes Injuries Deaths
Forward Collision Warning/ Automatic Emergency Braking 1,994,000 884,000 4,738
Lane Departure Warning / Lane Keeping Assist 519,000 187,000 4,654
Blind Spot Warning 318,000 89,000 274
Total Potentially Preventable by all systems 2,748,000 1,128,000 9,496


Despite the findings that show confusion about some ADAS technologies, at least 70 percent of vehicle owners report that they would recommend the technology to other drivers. The greatest proportion of drivers reported trusting blind spot monitoring systems (84 percent), followed by rear-cross traffic alert (82 percent), lane departure warning (77 percent), lane keeping assist (73 percent), forward collision warning (69 percent) and automatic emergency braking (66 percent).
 
These findings should prompt additional focus on the importance of educating new and used car buyers about how safety technologies work.

“The training drivers need to properly use the safety technologies in their vehicles is not currently offered,” added LaDoucer. “If educating consumers about vehicle technology was as much a priority for the automakers and dealers as making the sale, we would all reap the benefits.”
 
Only about half of the drivers who report purchasing their vehicle from a car dealership recalled being offered training on the ADAS technology. However, for those who were, nearly 90 percent took advantage of the opportunity and completed the training.
 
For now, drivers are their best safety advocate to ensure that they understand their technology’s features, functions and limitations before leaving the lot. In order to reduce misuse or overreliance on the systems, AAA encourages drivers to:

  • Read up: Read your owner’s manual to learn what systems are installed in your vehicle.
  • See it in action: Insist on an in-vehicle demonstration and test drive to better understand how the systems will engage on the roadway.
  • Ask questions: Ask plenty of questions about the alerts, functions, capabilities and limitations of the vehicle’s safety technologies before leaving the dealership. For example, ask if there are scenarios when a technology will not function properly on the road.

For additional resources, visit AAA.com/DriverAssistanceSystem.

Contact(s):

Gene LaDoucer
phone: 701.893.3759
About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a not-for-profit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org.
 
About The Auto Club Group
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, insurance, financial services and travel offerings to over 9.6 million members across eleven states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 59 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel, and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. Visit AAA on the Internet at AAA.com.


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