A report by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that despite the proliferation of advanced driver assistance systems in the U.S. vehicle fleet, many drivers are still unaware of the safety limitations of these technologies.
Many of the technologies, after years of r&d by the auto industry, are common on numerous nameplates, particularly among luxury brands. Among them are backup cameras, blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assistance.
The research found that many drivers maintain a misconception that they can rely on the technology to make all of their traffic decisions without taking their own preventative measures first.
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 how drivers' experiences with the technologies related to their awareness and opinions of the technology.
They found that 80 percent of drivers did not know the limitations of blind-spot monitoring or incorrectly believed that the systems could monitor the roadway behind the vehicle or reliably detect bicycles, pedestrians and vehicles passing at high speeds, the foundation said in a statement Wednesday.
"In terms of specific questions asked on the functions and limitations of blind spot monitoring systems, only 21 percent of owners with blind spot monitoring systems correctly identified the system's inability to detect vehicles passing at high speeds," said Brian Tefft, senior researcher at the foundation. "In other words, only 1 in 5 recognized that the system couldn't reliably detect vehicles passing at very high speeds."
When it came to forward-collision warning and automatic emergency breaking, nearly 40 percent of drivers did not know the systems' 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, the foundation said.
"Roughly half of the drivers who report purchasing their vehicle from a car dealership recalled being offered training on the ADAS technology," said Tefft. "Although a vast majority took it up, a substantial minority had unanswered questions."
The findings suggest that a consensus for more education and training needs to take place, especially on the proper functions and capabilities of these systems, said Tamra Johnson, spokeswoman for the foundation.
As for a possible future with autonomous vehicles, there is still a long way to go, said Johnson. "For now, drivers are their own advocate. They need to do their research, ask questions prior to making a purchase, and stay engaged."
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