Testing finds car driver assistance systems fail most of the time

Investigators

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — When it comes to safety, many new cars have driver assistance systems to help make navigating the roads safer, but some experts are concerned the systems are still subject to failure and need to be redesigned. 

Most new cars have systems to help drivers avoid collisions or stay within their lanes. However, those partially automated systems don’t always work the way drivers think they will.”We are concerned with drivers not paying attention when using these systems as much as they should,” said Jessica Cicchino, vice president for research at the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety.

In addition to driver inattention, many of the systems are not perfect.  

A recent study by AAA found driver assistance systems in several models failed 66% of the time when they hit a simulated disabled vehicle during closed-course testing. 

“We’re seeing the same thing at the IIHS,” said Cicchinio. “They don’t always behave as you expect them to.” 

That makes some drivers wary. 

Motorist Zoe Conaway says she doesn’t always trust driver assistance systems.

“I’m still pretty basic and want to rely on myself first,” she said. 

Cicchinio said the systems could be redesigned.

“We think systems could be redesigned to make drivers more involved in the driving, to help make sure driver’s are paying attention,” said Cicchino. 

For example, some systems only monitor the driver’s hands on the wheel. 

“We think it would be more robust if systems monitor if drivers are looking at the road and their hands are on the wheel,” said Cicchino. 

Some drivers realize there are limitations to the technology. 

“As far as driving on highways, I think the lane departure stuff is pretty fine, but as far as making turns I don’t trust it — not yet,” said Hunter Winstead. 

Although driver assistance systems are helping, safety experts say the person behind the wheel still has to be the driver. 

“Drivers have to be there and ready to take over the steering again if the vehicle drops it,” said Cicchinio. 

Eventually, there will be completely autonomous cars, so it’s important that automakers get these systems right now. 

The driver assistance systems of today will be the building blocks for technology that allows vehicles to drive themselves. 

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