Automaker marketing campaigns that promote active driving assistance systems in new vehicles may create a false sense of safety among drivers, said AAA.
New research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows marketing efforts promoting these systems as “automated” may prompt drivers to overlook the vehicle’s safety limitations, and can lead to dangerous road situations.
Unlike self-driving or autonomous vehicle technology, active driving assistance systems do just that: they simply assist the driver, not take over actual driving. Driving these vehicles still requires focus and attention on the road, the research said.
The latest study discovered differences in marketing tone and emphasis can significantly influence a person’s understanding of the technology and expectations of system capabilities, said Dr. David Yang, the Foundation’s executive director.
In this latest AAA Foundation study, 90 participants, split into two research groups, received overviews of an active driving assistance system featuring a realistic but fictitious name.
Half were told about “AutonoDrive;” their training emphasized the system’s capabilities and driver convenience. The other half were told about “DriveAssist;” their training emphasized system limitations and driver responsibility.
These differences produced differing perceptions of the vehicle’s features. Of the AutonoDrive participants, 42% believed erroneously the system can take the necessary action to avoid a collision when another vehicle directly at its side begins to change lanes, compared with only 4% of the DriveAssist participants.
AutonoDrive participants were more likely to mistakenly believe the system would automatically reduce speed on a tight curve without driver intervention.
They also felt more comfortable eating or using a cell phone while driving with the system – two behaviors that still would pose unsafe distractions.
- Purpose – Learn the purpose of active driving technology; read the owner’s manual and visit the manufacturer’s website.
- Limitations – Understand what the technology can’t do; don’t make any assumptions about automation.
- Allow Time for Testing – Take time to conduct safe on-road testing so drivers know how this technology works in real driving situations.
- Never Rely on It – Don’t rely on active driving technology; instead, act as if the vehicle doesn’t have complete automated features. Drivers should always prepare to retake control if needed.