Even as the availability of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) increases, older drivers still use the systems at about the same rate as they did years ago, a new study has found. They also perceived the safety of ADAS as about the same.
Perhaps most tellingly, the study from AAA, found that older drivers who did use ADAS reported that they did so after “figuring it out by themselves” rather than getting the driver training needed to understand the use of the systems.
That’s not a formula for success. The study stated: “Some of the safety benefits may be reduced if older drivers do not use the technologies in their vehicles or they do not learn how these technologies function and, more importantly, the operational limitations of these technologies.”
The Increased Prevalence of ADAS
The study, part of the AAA Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers (AAA LongROAD) project, involved 2,374 drivers who participated for three years. About 85 percent of the drivers were above the age of 70, with the other 15 percent between the ages of 65 and 69. However, the findings of the study may apply to anyone who does not know how to use the latest ADAS features.
And those ADAS features continue to become more commonplace. The number of study participants having one or more ADAS features in their vehicle increased from 59 percent to 72 percent over the three-year span. The average number of ADAS features per vehicle increased from 2 to 3.3.
The study reported that the most common ADAS features were backup/parking assistance, blind spot warning and integrated Bluetooth cell phone. However, despite the increase in ADAS features, the rate of use among study participants remained about the same over the course of the three-year study.
Lack of Training
The study gave participants different options to indicate how they learned to use ADAS, if they did so at all. The choices included learning from the dealer, owner’s manual, friend or family member, finding information on the internet, figured it out by themselves, or other.
By the third year of the study, more than half (about 51 percent) said they figured it out for themselves, followed by 21 percent who said they learned from the dealer. The next highest response came from about 12 percent of the participants who said they “never learned.”
Those who figured it out themselves may not get the full safety benefits of ADAS. Separate research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that those who took a “learn as you go” approach had more gaps in their understanding of ADAS when compared to those who had training.
“Our research finds that drivers who attempt the ‘self-taught’ approach to an advanced driver-assistance system might not fully master its entire capabilities,” Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, said in a news release. “In contrast, drivers who have adequate training are able to effectively use the vehicle technology.”
Also, more than 36 percent of drivers reported using ADAS systems rarely or never, with another 14 percent saying they used ADAS “sometimes.”
Driver Training For ADAS Systems
With decades of experience in training fleet and individual drivers, Driving Dynamics knows the issues surrounding use of ADAS systems. The training company offers a class, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems Virtual Safety Training Course, that specifically addresses these issues.
Experienced instructors lead the virtual classes, teaching drivers how to effectively and safely use the latest ADAS, including back-up warning/camera, blind spot monitor, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, lane departure warning and lane-keeping assist.
Drivers review system activation triggers, proper use of the systems and any challenges the systems present. They also learn the limitations of ADAS and the hazards of having too much dependence on them.
As the AAA study shows, more ADAS systems are available. The key is teaching drivers what they can do - and just as importantly, what they cannot do - with these advanced systems.