AAA study shows failures in cross traffic alert systems image

The American Automobile Association has recently published a new study which reveals that new cross traffic alert systems have a tendency to fail, a situation which leads to crashes and injuries caused to pedestrians and bicyclists in parking lots.

According to AAA findings, the situation is further worsened by a lack of skills in most Americans when it comes to parking, the organization referring to U.S. drivers as individuals who “park incorrectly.” John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair, declared that: “Recognizing that American parking habits differ from much of the world, automakers are increasingly adding technology to vehicles that is designed to address rear visibility concerns. However, AAA’s testing of these systems reveals significant shortcomings when used in real-world conditions and Americans should rely more on driving skills than technology.”

Apparently, the problem stems from the way US drivers park in busy mall and shopping centers lots, with the vast majority – 76% according to the AAA study – pulling forward and not backwards. Upon leaving, drivers have to drive out while backing, which severely endangers both pedestrians and cyclists. Theoretically, the new cross traffic alert technology should step in and provide assistance, as it is designed to use high frequency radar “noses” placed under the vehicle’s rear and looking both sides as the car pulls out backwards. In principle, these systems are meant to identify ongoing traffic, including cyclists and pedestrians.

However, the AAA tests, summarized in the study, showed that the systems are failing more often than normal. For example, in almost half of the tests (48%), they missed a passing motorcycle and in 30% of the cases, larger cars were also “ignored”. More alarmingly, pedestrians were not spotted in 60% of the cases and cyclists in 30% of the times. AAA has always questioned new driver-aid technologies being installed onto vehicles, as they tend to create a false sense of security for the driver. According to Megan McKernan, manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, such systems should be mere assistants to the driver, not a replacement of their judgment.

Via The Detroit Bureau