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Study finds drivers trust active safety tech but are unaware of limitations

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Only 21 percent of owners with blind-spot monitoring technology were aware of the system’s limitations, including an inability to detect high-speed passing vehicles. Pictured: Nissan's Blind Spot Warning system. (Image courtesy of Nissan North America)

A study by the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety in September found that drivers of vehicles with advanced driver assistance system technologies in their vehicles found them to be generally helpful and trustworthy, but failed to understand the limitations of the system.

The study surveyed owners of 2016 and 2017 model-year vehicles equipped with any combination of forward-collision warnings, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warnings, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alerts and adaptive cruise control.

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Over two thirds of these owners reported trusting the technology, and three of four responded that they found the technology useful. More than seven of 10 owners also stated that they would want each technology on their next new vehicle and would recommend it to others.


Despite the favorable views, only 21 percent of owners with blind-spot monitoring technology were aware of the system’s limitations, including an inability to detect high-speed passing vehicles. Another 33 percent of those with vehicles equipped with automatic emergency braking did not realize the system relied on sensors or cameras that could be obstructed by dirt or snow.

Further, a quarter to one third of respondents reported engaging in other activities while active cruise control was in use, relying on blind-spot monitoring systems to change lanes without visually checking their blind spots, and backing up without looking over their shoulder in vehicles with rear cross-traffic alerts.

As these technologies become standard equipment on many new makes and models, more drivers will become familiar with, and potentially over-reliant on them, so the need for information around the limitations of the system is greater than ever.

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