Drivers Ill Informed About ADAS Tech Limitations – Study

Even as automakers race to load up and market vehicles with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) technology, an AAA report finds drivers rely too heavily on these features and are poorly informed about them.

These were the findings of an AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report conducted by the University of Iowa and released today. The results are based on responses from 1,212 participants.

The survey included drivers who recently purchased a vehicle with ADAS technologies, evaluating drivers’ opinions, awareness and understanding of these technologies.

The vast majority of consumers did not understand the limitations of blind spot warnings, automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning and lane keeping assist.

For example, 80% 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.

Meanwhile, about 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.

More worryingly, the survey indicated false expectations for ADAS systems can lead to an increase in driver distraction — a quarter of respondents using forward collision warning or lane departure warning systems said they feel comfortable engaging in other tasks while driving.

Despite the findings that show confusion about some ADAS technologies, at least 70% of vehicle owners report that they would recommend the technology to other drivers.

The survey also indicated that consumers are looking to car dealers help them understand and get acquainted with the ADAS features on their vehicle.

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 offered training, nearly 90% took advantage of the opportunity.

Jake Nelson, AAA’s director of traffic safety advocacy and research, noted in the study that the organization is urging drivers to take charge of learning their vehicle technology’s functions and limitations in order to improve safety on the road.

In addition, AAA offers an online course to help people learn more about the functions and limitations of ADAS technologies currently available on vehicles.

The organization finds that if installed on all vehicles, ADAS technologies could potentially prevent more than 2.7 million crashes, 1.1 million injuries and nearly 9,500 deaths each year.

“The prospect of self-driving cars is exciting, but we aren’t there yet,” Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA’s traffic safety foundation, noted in a statement.

Overall, Americans continue to take a dim view of self-driving vehicles, with three in four saying they would still use human-operated vehicles even if driverless cars were common.

This was one of the results of an April survey by Gallup exploring Americans’ driving habits and their attitudes toward cars — both human-operated and driverless.

Consumers also expect improvements in the safety of autonomous vehicles, but they still want to be able to take over the wheel at any time, according to the results of a February TÜV Rheinland survey of more than 1,000 licensed drivers aged 18 or older in China, Germany and the US.

— Nathan Eddy is a filmmaker and freelance journalist based in Berlin. Follow him on Twitter.

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