The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Drivers Don't Trust Parking Assist Technology

October 12, 2015

Photo courtesy of AAA.
Photo courtesy of AAA.

As automakers increasingly integrate self-parking features into new vehicles, drivers say they're not ready to give up control, according to a recent survey from AAA.

Nearly 80 percent of drivers are confident in their parallel parking abilities and only one in four would trust this technology to park their vehicle. Despite this, AAA testing found self-parking technology outperformed unassisted drivers in several areas.

"Autonomous features, such as active park assist, are rapidly being introduced into new vehicles, yet American drivers are hesitant to let go of the wheel," said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of automotive engineering and repair. "While the vast majority of Americans say they would not trust self-parking technology, AAA found these features performed well in tests and warrant consideration of new car buyers."

Compared to drivers that manually parallel parked with the aid of a standard backup camera, AAA found:

  • Drivers using self-parking systems experienced 81 percent fewer curb strikes.
  • Self-parking systems parallel-parked the vehicle using 47 percent fewer maneuvers, with some systems completing the task in as little as one maneuver.
  • Self-parking systems were able to park a vehicle 10 percent faster.
  • Self-parking systems were able to park 37 percent closer to the curb.

"AAA's testing found that self-parking technology outperformed manual parking in number of curb strikes, number of maneuvers, speed and accuracy,” said Megan McKernan, manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center. "While Americans report feeling confident in their parallel parking abilities, this technology proves there is room for improvement."

AAA tested self-parking features on five 2015 vehicles including a Lincoln MKC, Mercedes-Benz ML400 4Matic, Cadillac CTS-V Sport, BMW i3 and Jeep Cherokee Limited in a partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California's Automotive Research Center.

Though the tested self-parking systems performed well and parked quicker and more accurately than an unassisted driver, the technology isn't without flaws. Several of the systems parked the vehicles too close to the curb, leaving wheels and tires vulnerable to scratches and costly repairs.

"AAA recommends that drivers leave 6-8 inches between the vehicle and the curb when parallel parking," said Nielsen. "With some systems leaving as little as a half-inch buffer, AAA urges automakers to increase this distance to prevent vehicle damage."

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