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AAA Study Finds Flaws with Driver Assistance Technology

New AAA research finds inconsistencies in automated systems that combine speed, braking, lane centering

B-Roll for Media / Sound Bites for Media / Photos of Research

Although designed to assist drivers in order to reduce or eliminate traffic crashes, AAA is warning drivers to be cautious of trusting certain vehicle technology.

What are termed "Active Driving Assistance" systems are designed to assist drivers and make the roads safer; however, AAA researchers warn the technology is far from 100-percent reliable.

While there are various forms of Advanced Driver Assistance Technologies in vehicles today, Active Driving Assistance (ADA) is unique in that it combines functionalities like steering, acceleration and braking. AAA's research focused on five vehicles equipped with Active Driving Assistance. View the full report

Real-World Testing

AAA automotive researchers found that over the course of 4,000 miles of real-world driving, vehicles equipped with active driver assist systems experienced some type of issue every 8 miles, on average. Researchers noted instances of:

  • Trouble keeping vehicles in the lane and coming too close to other vehicles or guardrails.
  • Systems often disengaging with little notice – almost instantly giving control back to the driver.

On public roadways, nearly three-quarters (73%) of all system errors involved instances of lane departure or erratic lane position. These systems currently rely on in-vehicle cameras to determine lane position. Just like our eyes, the cameras struggle to "see" when lane markings are not clear or when the sun is providing too much glare. Also, lane changes can happen suddenly, causing the vehicle to struggle in a more complex driving environment.

"Active Driving Assistance Systems may lull drivers into a false sense of security, encouraging them to direct their attention away from driving," said Gene LaDoucer, director of public affairs for AAA-The Auto Club Group in North Dakota. "When using these systems, it is critical drivers remain focused on the road and not rely solely on the technology to keep them safe."

Disabled Vehicles

In closed-course testing, AAA researchers found that the systems performed mostly as expected, but were challenged when approaching a simulated disabled vehicle parked partially in the roadway. When encountering this test scenario, in aggregate, a collision occurred 66 percent of the time and the average impact speed was 25 mph, slowing just 5 mph from the original speed.


AAA has met with industry leaders to provide insight from the testing experience and shared its recommendations for improvement. Recommendations include increasing the scope of testing for active driver assistance systems and limit their rollout until functionality is improved to provide a more consistent and safer driver experience.

"With the number of issues experienced in testing, it's unclear how these systems enhance the driving experience in their current form," said LaDoucer. "A bad experience with current technology can set back public acceptance of more fully automated vehicles in the future."

AAA's 2020 automated vehicle survey found that only one in ten drivers (12%) would trust riding in a self-driving car. To increase consumer confidence, AAA says it's important that car manufacturers perfect functionality as much as possible before deployment in a larger fleet of vehicles

AAA conducted closed-course testing and naturalistic driving in partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California's Automotive Research Center and AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah's GoMentum Proving Grounds. Using a defined set of criteria, AAA selected the following vehicles for testing: 2019 BMW X7 with "Active Driving Assistant Professional", 2019 Cadillac CT6 with "Super Cruise™", 2019 Ford Edge with "Ford Co-Pilot360™", 2020 Kia Telluride with "Highway Driving Assist" and 2020 Subaru Outback with "EyeSight®" and were sourced from the manufacturer or directly from dealer inventory. The 2019 Cadillac CT6 and the 2019 Ford Edge were evaluated only within naturalistic environments. For specific methodology regarding testing equipment, closed-course test scenarios and naturalistic routes, please refer to the full report here.

About AAA - The Auto Club Group
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America with more than 14 million members across 14 U.S. states, the province of Quebec and two U.S. territories. ACG and its affiliates provide members with roadside assistance, insurance products, banking and financial services, travel offerings and more. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 60 million members in the United States and Canada. AAA's mission is to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve traffic safety. For more information, get the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.