Consumers recognize value in ADAS technologies — such as blind spot monitoring, collision warning and lane assistance — but many are unaware of safety limitations. For example, researchers found that nearly 80 percent of drivers with blind spot monitoring had incorrect assumptions about the accuracy of the technology, believing it could detect vehicles passing at very high speeds, or bicycles and pedestrians.
“In reality, the technology can only detect a vehicle traveling in the driver’s blind spot, and many systems today do not reliably detect people walking or riding bikes,” said Mike Blasky, spokesperson for AAA Northern California. “If a driver doesn’t understand how their technology functions, they might rely on that system to detect safety issues that the technology wasn’t designed to find.”
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.
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 9,496Despite 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, according to AAA.
“Drivers need adequate training and effective educational resources that simply do not exist,” added Blasky. “AAA is sharing this new research with vehicle manufacturers and other stakeholders to help establish effective education tools that will benefit car buyers. If strong consumer education about vehicle technology was as much a priority 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 a training on the ADAS technology. However, for those who were, nearly 90 percent took advantage of the opportunity and completed the training.
AAA encourages drivers to understand their technology’s features, functions and limitations before leaving the lot:
- Read your owner’s manual to learn what systems are installed in your vehicle.
- Be an informed buyer: Ask plenty of questions about the alerts, functions, capabilities and limitations of the vehicle’s safety technologies before leaving the dealership. Insist on an in-vehicle demonstration and test drive to better understand how the systems will engage on the roadway.
About AAA Northern California
We have a proud, 117 history of serving over 4 million Californians. We are more than our legendary fleet of tow trucks, auto, home, life insurance and travel services. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the communities we serve, offering smarter solutions that improve traffic safety and helping the public adapt to a fast-changing mobility landscape. Learn more at AAA.com.