Posts Tagged ‘Automaker’

Michael Green Contact TileSurprising Research Finds that Mental Distractions Can Persist Long after Completing a Task

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 22, 2015) – Potentially unsafe mental distractions can persist for as long as 27 seconds after dialing, changing music or sending a text using voice commands, according to surprising new research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The results raise new and unexpected concerns regarding the use of phones and vehicle information systems while driving. This research represents the third phase of the Foundation’s comprehensive investigation into cognitive distraction, which shows that new hands-free technologies can mentally distract drivers even if their eyes are on the road and their hands are on the wheel.

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“The lasting effects of mental distraction pose a hidden and pervasive danger that would likely come as a surprise to most drivers,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The results indicate that motorists could miss stop signs, pedestrians and other vehicles while the mind is readjusting to the task of driving.”

Researchers found that potentially unsafe levels of mental distraction can last for as long as 27 seconds after completing a distracting task in the worst-performing systems studied. At the 25 MPH speed limit in the study, drivers traveled the length of nearly three football fields during this time. When using the least distracting systems, drivers remained impaired for more than 15 seconds after completing a task.

“Drivers should use caution while using voice-activated systems, even at seemingly safe moments when there is a lull in traffic or the car is stopped at an intersection,” said Marshall Doney, AAA’s President and CEO. “The reality is that mental distractions persist and can affect driver attention even after the light turns green.”

The researchers discovered the residual effects of mental distraction while comparing new hands-free technologies in ten 2015 vehicles and three types of smart phones. The analysis found that all systems studied increased mental distraction to potentially unsafe levels. The systems that performed best generally had fewer errors, required less time on task and were relatively easy to use.

Phase-III-Rankings-Chart

The researchers rated mental distraction on a five-point scale. Category one represents a mild level of distraction and category five represents the maximum.  AAA considers a mental distraction rating of two and higher to be potentially dangerous while driving.

The best performing system was the Chevy Equinox with a cognitive distraction rating of 2.4, while the worst performing system was the Mazda 6 with a cognitive distraction rating of 4.6. Among phone systems, Google Now performed best with a distraction rating of 3.0, while Apple Siri and Microsoft Cortana earned ratings of 3.4 and 3.8. Using the phones to send texts significantly increased the level of mental distraction. While sending voice-activated texts, Google Now rated as a category 3.3 distraction, while Apple Siri and Microsoft Cortana rated as category 3.7 and category 4.1 distractions.

“The massive increase in voice-activated technologies in cars and phones represents a growing safety problem for drivers,” continued Doney. “We are concerned that these new systems may invite driver distraction, even as overwhelming scientific evidence concludes that hands-free is not risk free.”

Previous AAA Foundation research established that a category 1 mental distraction is about the same as listening to the radio or an audio book. A category 2 distraction is about the same as talking on the phone, while category 3 is equivalent to sending voice-activated texts on a perfect, error-free system. Category 4 is similar to updating social media while driving, while category 5 corresponds to a highly-challenging, scientific test designed to overload a driver’s attention.
“Developers should aim to reduce mental distractions by designing systems that are no more demanding than listening to the radio or an audiobook,” continued Doney. “Given that the impairing effects of distraction may last much longer than people realize, AAA advises consumers to use caution when interacting with these technologies while behind the wheel.”

Select b-roll video of the research is available to download and for news media purposes. The previous findings from Phase I and Phase II of the Foundation’s research into cognitive distraction also are available.

Dr. David Strayer and Dr. Joel Cooper of the University of Utah conducted the research. A total of 257 drivers ages 21-70 participated in the study of 2015 model-year vehicles, while 65 additional drivers ages 21-68 tested the three phone systems.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.AAAFoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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Nancy WhiteAAA Urges Manufacturers to Focus on Accuracy and Usability to Reduce Cognitive Distraction

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 7, 2014) – With three out of four drivers believing that hands-free technology is safe to use, Americans may be surprised to learn that these popular new vehicle features may actually increase mental distraction, according to new research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. This research can serve as guidance to manufacturers who increasingly market hands-free systems as safety features. The good news for consumers is that it is possible to design hands-free technologies that are less cognitively distracting, according to the research.

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The results, which build on the first phase of the Foundation’s research conducted last year, suggest that developers can improve the safety of their products by making them less complicated, more accurate and generally easier to use – a point AAA hopes to use in working with manufacturers to make hands-free technologies as safe as possible for consumers. While manufacturers continue their efforts to develop and refine systems that reduce distractions, AAA encourages drivers to minimize cognitive distraction by limiting the use of most voice-based technologies.

“We already know that drivers can miss stop signs, pedestrians and other cars while using voice technologies because their minds are not fully focused on the road ahead,” said Bob Darbelnet, chief executive officer of AAA. “We now understand that current shortcomings in these products, intended as safety features, may unintentionally cause greater levels of cognitive distraction.”

Using instrumented test vehicles, heart-rate monitors and other equipment designed to measure reaction times, Dr. David Strayer and researchers from the University of Utah evaluated and ranked common voice-activated interactions based on the level of cognitive distraction generated. The team used a five-category rating system, which they created in 2013, similar to that used for hurricanes. The results show:

      • The accuracy of voice recognition software significantly influences the rate of distraction. Systems with low accuracy and reliability generated a high level (category 3) of distraction.
      • Composing text messages and emails using in-vehicle technologies (category 3) was more distracting than using these systems to listen to messages (category 2).
      • The quality of the systems’ voice had no impact on distraction levels – listening to a natural or synthetic voice both rated as a category 2 level of distraction.

The study also separately assessed Apple’s Siri (version iOS 7) using insight obtained from Apple about Siri’s functionality at the time the research was conducted.  Researchers used the same metrics to measure a broader range of tasks including using social media, sending texts and updating calendars. The research uncovered that hands- and eyes-free use of Apple’s Siri generated a relatively high category 4 level of mental distraction.  

To put all of this year’s findings in context, last year’s research revealed that listening to the radio rated as a category 1 distraction; talking on a hand-held or hands-free cell phone resulted in a category 2 distraction; and using an error-free speech-to-text system to listen to and compose emails or texts was a category 3 distraction.

“Technologies used in the car that rely on voice communications may have unintended consequences that adversely affect road safety,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The level of distraction and the impact on safety can vary tremendously based on the task or the system the driver is using.”

To assess “real-world” impact, Dr. Joel Cooper with Precision Driving Research evaluated the two most common voice-based interactions in which drivers engage – changing radio stations and voice dialing – with the actual voice-activated systems found in six different automakers’ vehicles. On the five point scale, Toyota’s Entune® system garnered the lowest cognitive distraction ranking (at 1.7), which is similar to listening to an audio book. In comparison, the Chevrolet MyLink® resulted in a high level of cognitive distraction (rating of 3.7). Other systems tested included the Hyundai Blue Link (rating 2.2), the Chrysler Uconnect™ (rating 2.7), Ford SYNC with MyFord Touch® (rating 3.0) and the Mercedes COMAND® (rating 3.1).

“It is clear that not all voice systems are created equal, and today’s imperfect systems can lead to driver distraction,” continued Darbelnet. “AAA is confident that it will be possible to make safer systems in the future.”

This phase of the research highlights the variability in demands across all the systems tested.

AAA is calling for developers to address key contributing factors to mental distraction including complexity, accuracy and time on task with the goal of making systems that are no more demanding than listening to the radio or an audiobook. AAA also plans to use the findings to continue a dialogue with policy makers, safety advocates and manufacturers.

To view the full report, “Measuring Cognitive Distraction in the Vehicle II: Assessing In-Vehicle Voice-based Interactive Technologies,” and other materials on distracted driving, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com. This study builds upon groundbreaking research conducted last year, which found that drivers can be dangerously distracted even if their eyes are on the road and their hands are on the wheel. AAA promoted the study in the release:  Think You Know All About Distracted Driving? Think Again, Says AAA.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.aaafoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Heather HunterNew study reveals that lack of experience with advanced systems could put motorists at risk.

ORLANDO, Fla., (May 2, 2014) – Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) offer a significant opportunity to reduce collisions, improve traffic flow and enhance driver convenience. However, motorists may not fully understand the operation and limitations of these technologies. AAA’s research found that the assumptive gap poses a risk for distracted drivers. Although the adaptive cruise control and autonomous braking systems performed as described in the owner’s manuals, motorists unfamiliar with these devices may not be prepared for instances when the technology does not engage. The AAA research was conducted with the Automotive Research Center of the Auto Club of Southern California. 

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“There are significant benefits to this technology, but these systems have limitations, and multi-tasking drivers could be caught off guard by relying too heavily on safety features,” says John Nielsen, managing director, AAA Automotive Engineering and Repair. “The benefits of these systems could easily be outweighed if motorists are not familiar with their operation or lessen focus behind the wheel. Technology is not a substitute for an alert, engaged driver.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s New Car Assessment Program highlights crash-avoidance technologies “to help consumers buy a safer car.” These systems can alert a driver to a potential crash, adjust the vehicle’s pace to maintain a pre-set speed, and even brake independently to avoid a collision. Automakers are ramping up ADAS deployment to maximize safety benefits, increasing motorist exposure to autonomous systems.

To better understand how adaptive cruise control and autonomous braking function, AAA conducted test-track simulations consisting of a variety of typical commuting scenarios. Overall, the simulations demonstrated that adaptive cruise control did a good job of maintaining a specified following distance when traveling behind slower-moving vehicles in a highway setting. However, autonomous braking systems did not always recognize obstacles, provide a warning signal or engage the brakes to slow or stop the vehicle.  AAA’s research team also observed that:

  • Adaptive cruise control systems performed best when following more closely than AAA’s recommended three-second rule.
  • Tracking a vehicle at highway speeds while navigating a mild curve was unexpectedly difficult, but improved when following distance was reduced.
  • The ability to recognize obstacles varied between vehicles. The owner’s manuals for these vehicles warn that the systems may not recognize or react to motorcycles, a stopped vehicle, traffic cones or other obstructions.

Automakers have noted system limitations in owner’s manuals; but there are many indications that motorists often do not fully read the manual. Television commercials highlight capabilities without any indication of system limitations, and that input is the primary source of motorist knowledge about what these systems can do. AAA suggests safety gaps could be reduced if:

  • Automakers enhance communication to make clear and obvious the limitations of these systems.
  • Motorists become thoroughly familiar with all the technology in their car including advanced driver assistance systems before operating the vehicle.

Additional information regarding AAA’s tests of adaptive cruise control and autonomous braking is available on the AAA NewsRoom.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. AAA’s Automotive Engineering team conducts proprietary research to better understand consumer implications of automotive technology, design and functionality. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Michael GreenMore than Two Out of Three Drivers Use Cell Phone Despite Crash Risk

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 11, 2013) – High school-aged teens report using their phones or texting while driving substantially less often than adults do, according to new research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.  While the public often cites teens as being the most common offenders, a recent survey found that adult drivers ages 25-39 were the most likely to admit engaging in these risky behaviors behind the wheel.

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“It’s noteworthy that the young novice drivers are using their phones while driving less than older drivers since, given their inexperience, they are especially susceptible to distracted driving crashes,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “At the same time, it is discouraging that cell phone usage picks up when drivers gain more experience, as using a phone can lead to dangerous distractions behind the wheel.”

Two out of three drivers reported using a cell while driving within the past month. Forty-three percent of adults ages 25-39 reported doing so fairly often or regularly while driving, compared to only 20 percent of teens.  Motorists age 60 and up were the least likely to report using a phone.

Age

Reported Using Phone

While Driving

Reported Using Phone

Fairly Often / Regularly While Driving

16-18

58 percent

20 percent

19-24

72 percent

27 percent

25-39

82 percent

43 percent

40-59

72 percent

30 percent

60-74

51 percent

15 percent

75+

31 percent

7 percent

Total

67 percent

28 percent

“Using your phone while driving may seem safe, but it roughly quadruples your risk of being in a crash according to previous research,” said Jake Nelson, AAA director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “None of us is immune from the dangers of distracted driving. The best advice is to hang up and drive.”

More than one-in-four motorists reported sending a text or email while driving within the past month. Adults ages 25-39 reported texting and driving most frequently, while those age 60 and up reported doing it the least.

Age

Reporting Sending Text or Email

While Driving

Reported Sending Text or Email

Fairly Often / Regularly While Driving

16-18

31 percent

7 percent

19-24

42 percent

11 percent

25-39

45 percent

10 percent

40-59

24 percent

4 percent

60-74

7 percent

2 percent

75+

1 percent

1 percent

Total

26 percent

6 percent

Nearly nine-in-ten (88 percent) motorists believe distracted driving is a bigger problem now than it was three years ago. About 89 percent believe that other drivers talking on a cell phone while driving is a serious threat to their personal safety, while nearly all (96 percent) believe that others texting or emailing while behind the wheel is a serious threat.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one out of every ten fatal crashes involves distraction, resulting in more than 3,000 deaths per year, although experts agree the numbers are likely underestimated. Previous research shows that hands-free cell phones offer no significant safety benefits over handheld phones – hands-free is not risk-free.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety collected the data as part of the 2013 Traffic Safety Culture Index. The data are from a sample of 2,325 licensed drivers, ages 16 and older, who reported driving in the past 30 days.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them, and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.aaafoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Nancy White

Originally released June 12, 2013

New research reveals that voice-activated in-car technologies dangerously undermine driver attention

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WASHINGTON, D.C., – Hands-free technologies might make it easier for motorists to text, talk on the phone, or even use Facebook while they drive, but new findings from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety show dangerous mental distractions exist even when drivers keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.  The research found that as mental workload and distractions increase reaction time slows, brain function is compromised, drivers scan the road less and miss visual cues, potentially resulting in drivers not seeing items right in front of them including stop signs and pedestrians. This is the most comprehensive study of its kind to look at the mental distraction of drivers and arms AAA with evidence to appeal to the public to not use these voice-to-text features while their vehicle is in motion.

With a predicted five-fold increase in infotainment systems in new vehicles by 2018, AAA is calling for action as result of this landmark research. “There is a looming public safety crisis ahead with the future proliferation of these in-vehicle technologies,” said AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet. “It’s time to consider limiting new and potentially dangerous mental  distractions built into cars, particularly with the common public misperception that hands-free means risk-free.”

Cognitive distraction expert Dr. David Strayer and his research team at the University of Utah measured brainwaves, eye movement and other metrics to assess what happens to drivers’ mental workload when they attempt to do multiple things at once, building upon decades of research in the aerospace and automotive industries. The research included:

  • Cameras mounted inside an instrumented car to track eye and head movement of drivers.
  • A Detection-Response-Task device known as the “DRT” was used to record driver reaction time in response to triggers of red and green lights added to their field of vision.
  • A special electroencephalographic (EEG)-configured skull cap was used to chart participants’ brain activity so that researchers could determine mental workload.

Using established research protocols borrowed from aviation psychology and a variety of performance metrics, drivers engaged in common tasks, from listening to an audio book or talking on the phone to listening and responding to voice-activated emails while behind the wheel. Researchers used the results to rate the levels of mental distraction drivers experienced while performing each of the tasks. Similar to the Saffir-Simpson scale used for hurricanes, the levels of mental distraction are represented on a scale:

  • Tasks such as listening to the radio ranked as a category “1” level of distraction or a minimal risk.
  • Talking on a cell-phone, both handheld and hands-free, resulted in a “2” or a moderate risk.
  • Listening and responding to in-vehicle, voice-activated email features increased mental workload and distraction levels of the drivers to a “3” rating or one of extensive risk.

“These findings reinforce previous research that hands-free is not risk-free,” said AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger. “Increased mental workload and cognitive distractions can lead to a type of tunnel vision or inattention blindness where motorists don’t see potential hazards right in front of them.” Based on this research, AAA urges the automotive and electronics industries to join us in exploring:

  • Limiting use of voice-activated technology to core driving-related activities such as climate control, windshield wipers and cruise control, and to ensure these applications do not lead to increased safety risk due to mental distraction while the car is moving.
  • Disabling certain functionalities of voice-to-text technologies such as using social media or interacting with e-mail and text messages so that they are inoperable while the vehicle is in motion.
  • Educating vehicle owners and mobile device users about the responsible use and safety risks for in-vehicle technologies.

AAA also is using the findings to promote dialogue with policy makers, safety advocates and industry to ensure that these emerging in-vehicle technologies won’t lead to unintentional compromises in public safety.  As part of this effort, AAA has already met with safety advocates and provided copies of the report to CEOs of all major U.S. automakers.

“This study constitutes the most in-depth analysis to date of mental distractions behind the wheel.  AAA is hopeful that it will serve as a stepping stone toward working in collaboration with automakers to promote our shared goal of improving safety for all drivers,” said Darbelnet. “Specifically, these increasingly common voice-driven, in-vehicle technologies should be limited to use for just core driving tasks unless the activity results in no significant driver distraction.”

To view the full Cognitive Distraction in the Vehicle report, the AAA Foundation’s Research Compendium on Cognitive Distraction or AAA’s Distracted Driving Fact Sheet, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them, and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.aaafoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

 


ORLANDO, Fla., (January 25, 2013) –  A survey by AAA has found that newer cars with built-in maintenance reminder systems are allowing owners to spend less time worrying about when to service their vehicles and more time enjoying vehicle ownership.  According to the survey, 63 percent of motorists drive vehicles with a built-in maintenance reminder system that alerts them when it’s time to have service work performed. More than half (51 percent) of those drivers rely solely on the reminder system and have maintenance done only when the system says it’s due.  AAA recommends that motorists always follow automakers’ maintenance recommendations as found in vehicle owners’ manuals, including the use of in-vehicle maintenance reminder systems (where equipped) as an accurate indicator of when a car needs service.

“It’s encouraging to see motorists accepting this technology. Maintenance reminder systems make vehicle ownership easier, and having required services performed at the appropriate intervals results in better overall performance and longer vehicle life, “ says John Nielsen, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “Reminder systems can also save money by helping drivers avoid unnecessary service work.”

Reminder Systems and Vehicle Maintenance

Unlike traditional maintenance schedules based on time and/or mileage, maintenance reminder systems use various sensors and a computer algorithm to monitor vehicle operation and determine engine oil life based on real world use. The factors considered vary by reminder system, but commonly monitored values include hours of operation, engine rpm, cold starts, outside air temperature, vehicle speed and more. This analysis of real-time vehicle operating conditions makes choosing an oil change interval based on traditional “normal” or “severe service” driving conditions obsolete.

Frequency of Scheduled Maintenance

Motorists who follow their in-car reminder systems may also see a change in the frequency of recommended oil changes. While older vehicles sometimes required oil changes as often as every 3,000 miles, advancements in engine and lubricant technology have extended oil change intervals to 5,000 miles or more on most newer cars. In some cases, engines that use synthetic or semi-synthetic oils can have oil change intervals of more than 10,000 miles! AAA survey data show today’s motorists are beginning to accept longer oil change intervals, with 48 percent of drivers changing their oil every 3,000-6,000 miles.

Not All Oils Are the Same

While maintenance reminder systems typically call for extended oil change intervals, those recommendations are based on an assumption that the oil used in the engine meets the automaker’s specifications. AAA found that nearly 75 percent of motorists whose cars have built-in maintenance reminder systems understand that the accuracy of those systems depend on using engine oil that meets the vehicle manufacturer’s specifications.

Many newer cars today require the use of semi-synthetic oil (a blend of conventional and full-synthetic stocks) to maintain the warranty and ensure proper engine protection between oil changes. The use of full-synthetic oils is very common in European imports, high-performance models and engines equipped with turbochargers or superchargers. Using a lower quality oil than required will compromise engine protection, decrease the accuracy of the maintenance reminder system and potentially void the engine warranty. It is important that motorists and service providers be aware of the relevant standards for each vehicle and only use engine oils that meet them.

AAA Recommendations

AAA advises motorists to follow their vehicle manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule and, if their vehicle is equipped with a maintenance reminder system, to perform necessary maintenance when prompted by the vehicle. Ignoring maintenance reminders can increase vehicle wear and tear and potentially cause long-term damage. It is also important to know what type oil your vehicle requires and ensure that your service facility uses an appropriate product. The wrong oil could void a vehicle’s warranty, leaving the motorist to pay any needed repair bills.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

ORLANDO, Fla.,  August 30, 2011

Christie HydeAAA Auto Buying experts release list with variety of tailgating vehicle options from traditional trucks to hybrids to crossovers 
College football season kicks off this week and the NFL regular season will soon follow. For many Americans, that means it’s time to load up their car or truck for tailgating prior to the game. AAA Auto Buying experts are kicking off football season by releasing their list of top vehicle picks for tailgating.

“Tailgate parties are synonymous with football season. While some diehard fans will purchase an older vehicle and deck it out with their team colors and features specifically for tailgating, most fans head to the stadium in the vehicles they use every day,” said John Nielsen, AAA National Director of Auto Repair, Buying Services and Consumer Information.

Additional AAA Top Picks Lists:

“If you’re an avid tailgater and in the market for a new vehicle, AAA Auto Buying experts have compiled a list of vehicles you should check out before the big game.”

Tailgating vehicles are traditionally thought of as trucks and SUVs. For those football fans seeking a more traditional vehicle, AAA Auto Buying experts have three top picks:

Ford F-150 EcoBoost: For fans who like their tailgating vehicles to actually have a tailgate, AAA Auto Buying experts suggest the Ford F-150 EcoBoost. It’s a pickup truck with V-8 power and six-cylinder fuel economy. The extended and crew cabs make it easy to carry friends and family to the game in surprising comfort while the cargo box easily accommodates everything necessary for a great tailgating experience. The TrueCar national average selling price of the 2011 Ford F-150 SuperCab XLT is $32,245, 6.8 percent less than the MSRP.

Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid: Fans seeking a slightly ‘greener’ vehicle for tailgating that still provides them with all the room they need for a good tailgating party should consider the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid. The cavernous interior provides ample room to carry fans and supplies to the big game. But for those who want a deluxe tailgating experience, the Tahoe’s generous towing rating makes it easy to haul a separate trailer filled with the ultimate tailgating supplies. The TrueCar national average selling price for the 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid is $46,073, which is 11.6 percent less than the MSRP.

Chevrolet Avalanche: The Chevrolet Avalanche allows fans to enjoy an actual tailgate at their tailgating party while also being able to securely lock away their supplies when they head inside the stadium. The Avalanche has a unique combination of a crew cab pickup truck passenger cabin with a cargo box that can be locked and kept weather-tight. The TrueCar national average selling price for the 2011 Chevrolet Avalanche is $31,780, 14.7 percent less than MSRP

AAA Auto Buying experts recognize not all football fans may want a large truck or SUV for their everyday driving, and therefore named three less traditional tailgating vehicles to the top picks list, as well:

Ford Flex: For fans looking for tons of room without getting an SUV, AAA Auto Buying experts suggest the Ford Flex. Its boxy styling delivers an exceptionally roomy interior that is perfect for passengers, coolers, grills and folding furniture. The EcoBoost engine, with its improved performance and better fuel economy (over the standard V-6), makes the Flex even more attractive as a spacious SUV alternative for tailgating. The TrueCar national average selling price of the 2011 Ford Flex with Ecoboost is $34,169, which is 9.8 percent less than the MSRP

Subaru Forester: For diehard fans that tailgate in any weather — be it rain, sleet or snow — they want a vehicle like the all-wheel-drive Subaru Forester that can get them through any conditions to the game. In addition to delivering exceptional value, this crossover utility vehicle offers lively engine response (in the turbo version), comfortable seating with room for four and above average ride and handling. In addition, the cargo area should be more than capable of handling the basic necessities for a good tailgating party. The TrueCar national average selling price of the 2011 Subaru Forrester is $20,537, 4.6 percent less than the MSRP.

Nissan Cube: The most untraditional pick by AAA Auto Buying experts for tailgating is the Nissan Cube. Its stylings may appeal more to college student or recent graduates, but it still provides amazing amounts of room for party food and tailgating gear. Additionally, the Cube has an exceptional turning radius and swing-out tailgate that will make maneuvering and setup in a crowded parking lot a breeze. The TrueCar national average selling price of the 2011 Nissan Cube is $14,697, which is 5.2 percent less than the MSRP.

AAA’s top picks are selected by its AAA Auto Buying experts who test drive and evaluate hundreds of vehicles each year. AAA provides free vehicle reviews, localized pricing information and more for consumers online at AAA.com/AutoMaker. Additional information on AAA Auto Buying is available at AAA.com/AutoBuying.

TrueCar is the AAA preferred supplier for new car pricing data for the motor club. TrueCar is a trusted source for car buyers and car dealers, providing what other people actually paid for a vehicle within the last 30 days, locally, regionally and nationally using multiple, and even duplicate sources to gather and authenticate their data. Those in the market for a new vehicle can configure the vehicle they want and get the TrueCar average selling price at AAA.com/AutoMaker. Vehicle pricing will vary based on trim packages, and prices included with the top picks are based upon specific trim.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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