Drivers vastly less likely to use assistance tech in tight highway corners
Data shows better curve handling could increase safety
Advanced driver assistance features are being foiled by a major challenge on roadways that are limiting their safety benefits, says the IIHS. That challenge? Curves.
Features like adaptive cruise control, lane keeping, and other partial automation assistance features are often disabled by the driver or by the system, says a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The reason is that they can’t handle sharper curves on some highways and limited-access roadways. Or that drivers are not confident in the system’s abilities.
“We know that advanced driver assistance features may help prevent crashes, but obviously they can only do so if drivers use them,” says IIHS Senior Research Transportation Engineer Wen Hu, the lead author of the paper. “This study suggests that these technologies will only be able to reach their full potential if drivers can trust them to handle curves.”
The study put drivers behind the wheel of a pair of Range Rover Evoque models and two Volvo S90s. The Rovers had adaptive cruise and the Volvos had adaptive cruise and Pilot Assist that adds lane centering.
Drivers of the Range Rovers were 72 percent less likely to use ACC on the sharpest corners, while S90 drivers were 75 percent less likely to use Pilot Assist and 66 percent less likely to use ACC.
“The fact that Pilot Assist was frequently inactive on the sharpest curves is an important limitation, since the kinds of crashes lane centering could help prevent are more likely to occur on curves than on straightaways,” says Hu.
The IIHS suggests, based on previous studies, that ACC could boost rear-ending crashes and that lane-keeping could lower single-vehicle, sideswipe, and head-on crashes.