A recent study by the American Automobile Association (AAA) concludes that advanced driver assistance technology, purporting to improve steering and braking performance, fails to deliver reliable safety benefits.
AAA researchers say their investigation found the systems they tested disengaged every eight miles, on average, over disruptions they were not equipped to handle. They say the technology can create dangerous situations when drivers rely on them too heavily.
Unsafe in “real-world” situations
Automakers are speeding up efforts to add these systems, such as adaptive cruise control (ACC) or lane-change assist, to their vehicles as a way to increase profits. Other technology, including automatic braking, has shown some early promise.
However, safety experts urge caution when engaging many of these gadgets, such as pedestrian detection systems, which are still in the beginning stages. Lane changing or centering systems accounted for nearly three-quarters of all disengagements in the AAA study.
IIHS concurs that drivers are over-reliant on these systems
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released a separate study in November, showing drivers pay less attention to the road when these safety systems are engaged. Their research tracked a group of 20 volunteers over a month as they became more familiar with driver assistance features.
After 30 days, researchers said drivers were twice as likely to lose focus than before the study began. They were also 12 times more likely to take both hands off the wheel after being comfortable with the lane-centering technology.
The danger of a false sense of security
AAA warns that none of these systems are 100% reliable, and many of the disruptions they observed gave drivers little time to take corrective action. The auto safety advocate says driver assistance systems are not consistent, and they have urged automakers to improve them. They say the failure to take those steps could increase crash risks and permanently damage consumer trust.