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Car owners have too much faith in advanced driver assistance aids, AAA says

American drivers like and trust Advanced Driver Assist Systems but don’t understand ADAS limitations, according to a new American Automobile Association study. The AAA survey also found significant percentages of drivers rely too much on adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alerts.

Earlier surveys conducted by the AAA Foundation found that U. S. drivers originally afraid to ride in self-driving cars were gaining trust but still lacked education and experience with autonomous vehicles.

The AAA sent surveys to more than 10,000 owners of 2016 and 2017 vehicles with specific combinations of three or more ADAS technologies in which the research group was interested. The ADAS features of interest included forward collision warning (FCW), automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane departure warning (LDW), lane keeping assist (LKA), blind spot monitoring (BSM), rear cross-traffic alert (RCTA), and adaptive cruise control (ACC).

Of the 1,380 drivers who responded to the mail surveys, most liked the ADAS features in their vehicles, but many didn’t understand their driver assist features’ limitations and 25 to 30 percent of respondents used the assist features in potentially-unsafe ways.

aaa study drivers like dont understand adas september 2018

Drivers responded favorably about the ADAS technologies in their vehicles, showing that experience matters. More than two in three owners said they trusted the features in their cars. Three in four owners found their vehicles’ ADAS features useful and more than seven in 10 survey respondents wanted the same tech in their next cars. The majority of owners also indicated they would recommend the technologies to others.

Most survey respondents demonstrated a lack of understanding and misconceptions about the limitations and correct use of their cars’ driver assist features. For example, the AAA survey found that 79 percent did not indicate that they understood that blind spot monitoring could not detect vehicles passing at extreme speeds. One-third of drivers with automatic emergency braking systems didn’t know they need to keep the vehicle sensors and cameras clean and free of dirt, snow, and ice.

You may have seen video clips of drivers reading or even napping in the driver’s seat with ADAS features and early versions of autonomous driving modes engaged. The AAA found that 29 percent of the surveyed drivers indicated that they are comfortable paying attention to other activities while they use adaptive cruise control. A disturbing number of drivers reported they don’t look back when lane changing with blind spot monitoring turned on (30 percent), and one-quarter of owners with rear cross-traffic alerts indicated backing up without looking.

According to the AAA survey results, experience helps people like and trust advanced driver assist features, but education about limitations and safe operations are essential.

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