As manufacturers edge closer to developing the fully autonomous vehicle, they continue to unveil safety features designed to keep car and truck occupants protected from roadway collisions. Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are commonplace in newer vehicles, and designers make improvements continuously. Have these safety features made our highways and city streets any safer?
A recent closed-course AAA driving test uncovered deficiencies in some systems. Even though the systems performed mostly as intended, one scenario challenged the programming. When the ADAS vehicle approached a simulated disabled vehicle, a collision occurred 66% of the time.
Said Greg Bannon, director of automotive engineering and industry relations, “Active driving assistance systems are designed to assist the driver and help make the roads safer (but) these systems are in the early stages of their development.”
What is an active safety system?
Manufacturers seem to announce vehicle safety features at a record pace. From lane-keeping assist and blind-spot monitoring to collision avoidance and HUD warning systems, an ADAS can come in many forms. Unfortunately, many people get confused by the terminology.
- Passive safety: These systems generally lie dormant, only becoming active during an accident. Many refer to these as physical safety systems. A passive system can include seat belts, air bags and the overall construction of the vehicle itself.
- Active safety: These systems work actively to prevent an accident. Historically, these systems were limited to features such as traction control, braking systems and stability control. They now include the ADAS features such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and collision detection.
Unfortunately, many drivers do not understand the limitations of the ADAS and assume they are safer than they really are. Often, drivers rely on vehicle safety features to keep them out of harm’s way. These systems are meant to assist drivers, however, not take complete control of the vehicle. Drivers who are drowsy, impaired or distracted can make deadly mistakes while behind the wheel leading to catastrophic collisions.