Public Safety

Study: Misconceptions of driver systems are common, can spell out danger on the road

The information screen in a Volvo XC90 is part of the testing fleet at the University of Iowa’s National Advanced Driving Simulator in Coralville, Iowa, on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. The vehicle has driver assistance technology like lane keeping and blind spot detection as well as adaptive cruise control. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
The information screen in a Volvo XC90 is part of the testing fleet at the University of Iowa’s National Advanced Driving Simulator in Coralville, Iowa, on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. The vehicle has driver assistance technology like lane keeping and blind spot detection as well as adaptive cruise control. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Advanced driver assistance systems, like blind spot monitoring and collision warning, can prevent collisions — as long as drivers use the systems properly, a new report suggests.

According to a Wednesday AAA report, researchers at the University of Iowa’s National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS) found that, while driver assistance systems are becoming near ubiquitous in modern vehicles, motorists are often unaware of the limitations or capabilities of those systems.

“These technologies do have a real safety benefit and opportunity to drastically improve safety on our roadways, but it’s important that, as an owner of a vehicle, that you are very informed on your car and that you have a very good idea of the things that it can do and the things that it cannot do,” Ashley McDonald, project manager with NADS, said Wednesday. “Just getting that message out there is very critical.”

McDonald said UI center studied more than 1,300 drivers nationwide with vehicles built in 2016 and 2017.

According to the study:

l About 80 percent of drivers did not know the limitations of blind spot monitoring or that the systems cannot reliably detect fast-moving or smaller objects like motorcycles or bicyclists.

l Nearly 40 percent of drivers did not know the limitations of forward collision warning or automatic emergency braking systems, or confused the two technologies. In addition, one out of every six vehicle owners surveyed did not know if their vehicle was equipped with emergency braking.

l More than 30 percent of people who own vehicles with emergency braking systems did not know the systems rely on cameras or sensors that could become blocked by dirt, ice or snow.

The study also found that some drivers rely too much on some available systems:

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l About 25 percent of drivers using blind spot monitoring or rear cross traffic alert systems reported feeling comfortable relying solely on the systems, without performing visual checks.

l About 25 percent of vehicle owners using forward collision warning or lane departure warning systems reported feeling comfortable performing other tasks while driving.

“Each of these technologies do have a limitation,” McDonald said. “They’re there to assist you, but they don’t take the place of an attentive, engaged driver.”

According to the report, more than 37,400 people died in traffic crashes in 2016, marking a five percent increase from 2015.

The report also notes that forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assistance and blind spot warning systems all have the potential to prevent more than 2.7 million crashes, 1.1 million injuries and nearly 9,500 deaths each year.

“When properly utilized, (advanced driver assistance systems) technologies have the potential to prevent 40 percent of all vehicle crashes and nearly 30 percent of all traffic deaths. However, driver understanding and proper use is crucial in reaping the full safety benefits of these systems,” Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, said in a Wednesday news release. “Findings from this new research show that there is a still a lot of work to be done in educating drivers about proper use of (advanced driver assistance systems) technologies and their limitations.”

McDonald said it becomes increasingly important to educate drivers on the technologies in their vehicles so they know their capabilities and limitations.

“It’s important that the industry and researchers keep a pulse on how that education of the technologies is translated to drivers, especially as new drivers, more drivers, are using these technologies,” she said.

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McDonald encouraged drivers to talk with their dealer or check their owner’s manual to make sure they know the capabilities of their vehicle. She also pointed to the NADS website ‘My Car Does What’ which was designed to help motorists understand the technologies in their vehicles.

l Comments: (319) 398-8309; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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