Drivers Becoming Too Reliant On New Safety Features To Avoid Auto Accidents: AAA

As new vehicle safety technology designed to prevent crashes has become more prevalent in vehicles, drivers self-report that they are becoming reliant upon these features, often failing to manually check for blind spots or oncoming traffic. 

In a new report on advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), which was published this month by the American Automobile Association (AAA), researchers indicate that at least a third of individuals using modern crash avoidance systems have become reliant upon them, and fail to follow normal driving safety procedures.

AAA’s study examined individual experiences with certain crash avoidance technologies, by surveying registered owners of 194 vehicles from the model year 2016 and 2017, which were equipped with 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/or adaptive cruise control (ACC) systems.

The researchers found that at least two out of three owners of vehicles with one or more of the technologies report trusting the software to correctly perform, and at least seven out of ten reported they would want these features in their future vehicles.

Although the majority of participants appreciated and trusted the software, only 21 percent with BSM technology in their vehicles were aware of the system limitations, such as the inability to detect vehicles passing at very high speeds, which could increase the risk of a crash if the driver fails to manually check for upcoming traffic.

Survey data discovered that about one third of participants with AEB systems did not know the system relied on cameras or sensors to detect crash hazards, and that those sensors or cameras could fail if they were covered or blocked by outside elements such as dirt, snow or ice.

While the technology is helpful to prevent crashes when a driver makes an error, crash avoidance systems have not eliminated the need for drivers to be aware of their surroundings and drive safely. Researchers reported finding some suggestive evidence that drivers are adapting to the ADAS systems in an unsafe fashion which could cause crashes, injuries or fatalities if the systems fail.

Nearly 30 percent of participants reported at least occasionally feeling comfortable engaging in other activities while driving with ACC systems and 30 percent of those with BSM systems reported relying on the system not manually checking for blind spots.

A quarter of those surveyed with RCTA systems reported they do not check their rear or side mirrors, or look over their shoulder when backing up, and simply rely on the sensors to detect any objects to tell them to stop.

ADAS technologies have shown to play a major role in mitigating crashes and preventing injuries and fatalities over the last several years. Several automakers have made an AEB commitment to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that the features would be standard equipment, and not an option by 2022 , whereas more expensive systems will still remain an upgradable option to consumers.

Although there is a major push for ADAS systems to be universal among all makes and models, researchers from the study have raised about the noticed driving behavior changes and the lack of basic driver safety efforts due to relying on the systems.


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