AAA: Drivers Must Understand Risks of Automation Technology
Car manufacturers are putting drivers and others on the road at risk by overhyping the power of semi-autonomous technology, according to a new report from the American Automobile Association.
Branding and marketing that strongly suggests driver assist systems will offer an “automated” driving experience lull motorists into a dangerous sense of complacency, AAA found. That leaves many assuming the tech will do all or most of the work behind the wheel, the group said.
“These systems assist the driver and take some of the stress out of driving, but they don’t eliminate the need for drivers to pay attention,” David Yang, the executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety,” said in a statement announcing the results of the study.
AAA gave 90 research participants the same vehicle, telling half of them it was equipped with a system called “AutonoDrive” and the other half that the system was called “DriveAssist.” The AutonoDrive group was also “given an upbeat training that emphasized the system’s capabilities and driver convenience,” according to AAA, while the DriveAssist group’s training “placed greater emphasis on the system’s limitations and driver responsibility.”
The AutonoDrive consistently reported that the system’s name and the training session made them more confident that they could engage in risky behavior behind the wheel, like eating or using a cell phone. They were also much more likely than the DriveAssist group to erroneously believe that the car could automatically change lanes to avoid an accident or reduce speed to navigate tight curves.
“Automakers are in the business of selling vehicles. Understandably, they will emphasize convenience and system capabilities in their marketing campaigns,” Jake Nelson, AAA’s director of traffic safety advocacy and research, said. “But, their marketing campaigns, materials and consumer information should not mislead motorists.”
The AAA study comes on the heels of recent research out of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, similarly showing that drivers are likely to let their attention wander when using semi-autonomous assist systems. The IIHS also rolled out a study earlier this year showing that the currently available driver-assist systems eliminate only as much as one-third of driver errors responsible for crashes.
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