Research indicates that today’s sophisticated vehicle safety systems require more than trial-and-error to master them.  -  Photo:  Unsplash.com/Nabeel Syed

Research indicates that today’s sophisticated vehicle safety systems require more than trial-and-error to master them.

Photo: Unsplash.com/Nabeel Syed

New research from the AAA Foundation indicates that drivers who try to learn advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) on their own may not fully master the capabilities and might benefit from brief hands-on training.

Specifically, the researchers explored one of the most prevalent advanced driver-assistance systems found in new vehicles, adaptive cruise control (ACC). These systems are designed to assist with acceleration and braking to maintain a driver-selected gap to the car in front.

The foundation examined how the understanding and use of ACC changed over the first six months of ownership for new vehicle owners unfamiliar with the technology.

The findings show that over the course of the first six months with the new system, many drivers demonstrated a better understanding of the ACC system’s limitations. In other words, their knowledge grew with experience. However, despite learning more about ACC through regular use, the drivers failed to achieve the same level of understanding when compared to another group of drivers that received short but extensive instruction on the system.

For drivers that were “self-taught,” there were various gaps in understanding of the ACC systems features, benefits, and capabilities.

For example, some motorists falsely believe that the system will react to stationary objects in their lane, such as construction cones or other obstacles. Some drivers incorrectly thought that the system will provide steering input to keep the vehicle in its lane. Also, many drivers falsely believe the system can operate in all weather conditions.

Finally, the researchers also identified a sub-group of over-confident drivers who failed to grasp ACC yet were highly self-assured that they were indeed knowledgeable about the technology. 

To summarize, the research indicates that today’s sophisticated technology requires more than trial-and-error to truly grasp the capabilities and limitations.

AAA recommends that researchers, automakers, and government agencies work together to better understand driver performance, behavior, and interactions in vehicles with advanced technologies.

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