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Driver Overconfidence Linked to Automation, Report Finds

A new report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety links potentially dangerous situations to overconfidence and a reliance on new vehicle technologies, like automated driving features.

by Ann Marie Barron, Staten Island Advance / September 14, 2020
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(TNS) — Hyped up marketing of "automated'' driving technologies in new cars causes driver over-confidence, leading to dangerous scenarios on the road, AAA research has found.

Motorists using active driving assistance systems, which combine vehicle acceleration with braking and steering, tend to overlook safety limitations when the branding and marketing used to sell it suggest an “automated” driving experience, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Researchers found that consumer information that stresses convenience and capabilities while minimizing limitations, can inflate expectations regarding what the system can do and the situations it can handle.

In this latest AAA Foundation study, 90 research participants received a brief overview of an active driving assistance system with a realistic, but fictitious name. Before driving the same vehicle, half of the participants were told their system was called “AutonoDrive” and were given an upbeat training that emphasized the system’s capabilities and driver convenience.

The other half of the participants were told their system was named “DriveAssist,” and their training placed greater emphasis on the system’s limitations and driver responsibility.

Compared to those who learned about DriveAssist, participants trained on AutonoDrive were more likely to believe erroneously that the system would help drive the car while they using a cell phone (65%) and ate while behind the wheel (45%). Additionally, 42% of those queried thought the system would take action to avoid a collision if a car veered into their lane, and 56% thought the system could automatically reduce speed on a tight curve. Those percentages were significantly lower among "DriveAssist'' users.

Potential consumer misunderstandings of new vehicle technology need to be addressed, AAA researchers said.

In a previous survey, 40% of Americans told AAA they expect active driving assistance systems, with names like Autopilot and ProPILOT, to have the ability to drive the car by itself.

AAA recommends that automakers provide consumers information that is not only technically accurate, but also balanced in terms of setting expectations that match what consumers will ultimately experience on the road. For consumers, there must be an emphasis on driver engagement and understanding the limitations of these technologies, AAA said, and car dealers have a responsibility to educate car buyers on these technologies, but not to oversell a vehicle’s bells and whistle.

Drivers have a role to play, too, AAA stressed. They are responsible for taking the time to understand the technology in their vehicle. New features, functions, and limitations should be understood before leaving the lot.

©2020 Staten Island Advance, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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