Archive for the ‘Auto’ Category

New automotive engineering research finds 73% of performance issues were related to lane centering

ORLANDO, Fla. (Aug. 6, 2020) – AAA automotive researchers found that over the course of 4,000 miles of real-world driving, vehicles equipped with active driving assistance systems experienced some type of issue every 8 miles, on average. Researchers noted instances of trouble with the systems keeping the vehicles tested in their lane and coming too close to other vehicles or guardrails. AAA also found that active driving assistance systems, those that combine vehicle acceleration with braking and steering, often disengage with little notice – almost instantly handing control back to the driver. A dangerous scenario if a driver has become disengaged from the driving task or has become too dependent on the system. AAA recommends manufacturers increase the scope of testing for active driving assistance systems and limit their rollout until functionality is improved to provide a more consistent and safer driver experience.

Additional Resources

Active driving assistance, classified as Level 2 driving automation on a scale of six (0-5) created by the SAE International, are advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) that provide the highest level of automated vehicle technology available to the public today. This means for a majority of drivers, their first or only interaction with vehicle automation is through these types of systems, which according to AAA, are far from 100% reliable.

“AAA has repeatedly found that active driving assistance systems do not perform consistently, especially in real-word scenarios,” said Greg Brannon, director of automotive engineering and industry relations. “Manufacturers need to work toward more dependable technology, including improving lane keeping assistance and providing more adequate alerts.”

AAA tested the functionality of active driving assistance systems in real-world conditions and in a closed-course setting to determine how well they responded to common driving scenarios. On public roadways, nearly three-quarters (73%) of errors involved instances of lane departure or erratic lane position. While AAA’s closed-course testing found that the systems performed mostly as expected, they were particularly challenged when approaching a simulated disabled vehicle. When encountering this test scenario, in aggregate, a collision occurred 66% of the time and the average impact speed was 25 mph.

“Active driving assistance systems are designed to assist the driver and help make the roads safer, but the fact is, these systems are in the early stages of their development,” added Brannon. “With the number of issues we experienced in testing, it is unclear how these systems enhance the driving experience in their current form. In the long run, a bad experience with current technology may set back public acceptance of more fully automated vehicles in the future.”

AAA’s 2020 automated vehicle survey found that only one in ten drivers (12%) would trust riding in a self-driving car. To increase consumer confidence in future automated vehicles, it is important that car manufacturers perfect functionality as much as possible – like active driving assistance systems available now – before deployment in a larger fleet of vehicles. AAA has met with industry leaders to provide insight from the testing experience and recommendations for improvement. The insights are also shared with AAA members and the public to inform their driving experiences and vehicle purchase decisions.

Methodology

AAA conducted closed-course testing and naturalistic driving in partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center and AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah’s GoMentum Proving Grounds. Using a defined set of criteria, AAA selected the following vehicles for testing:  2019 BMW X7 with “Active Driving Assistant Professional”, 2019 Cadillac CT6 with “Super Cruise™”, 2019 Ford Edge with “Ford Co-Pilot360™”, 2020 Kia Telluride with “Highway Driving Assist” and 2020 Subaru Outback with “EyeSight®” and were sourced from the manufacturer or directly from dealer inventory. The 2019 Cadillac CT6 and the 2019 Ford Edge were evaluated only within naturalistic environments. For specific methodology regarding testing equipment, closed-course test scenarios and naturalistic routes, please refer to the full report here.

About AAA

AAA provides more than 60 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 32 motor clubs and nearly 1,000 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

Volvo Sedan earns top spot among 50 vehicles reviewed

ORLANDO, Fla. (June 18, 2020) – AAA announced a 2020 Volvo luxury sedan has earned the top score in its first edition of the newly released AAA Car Guide, a consumer resource on the latest and greatest in vehicle technology. The guide provides consumers with reviews based in part on how many advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are included in the vehicle as well as a number of other criteria. The majority of the category winners for 2020 are either electric, plug-in electric hybrids or hybrids, signaling that eco-friendly vehicles tend to offer the most cutting-edge vehicle technology.

The 175-page guide includes comprehensive, easy-to-read reviews of each vehicle which are based on 13 criteria, including braking, fuel economy, emissions, handling, ride comfort, acceleration and the number of ADAS safety features. These vehicles are tested, scored and placed in one of five vehicle categories by the Automotive Research Center (ARC) of the Automobile Club of Southern California, a member of the AAA federation of motor clubs. 

“With an increasing number of vehicles equipped with advanced safety features, we thought consumers would benefit from an in-depth review of how they stack up with other driving criteria,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations.  “Previous AAA studies have shown that many drivers don’t understand some of the features in their new vehicles and believe they can do more than is technically possible.” 

The AAA Car Guide is an evolution of the popular AAA Green Car Guide, the book that focused on fuel-efficient, low-emitting cars and trucks. The 2020 version has expanded the types of vehicles it reviews and ranks to include vehicles that are all new or completely redesigned and that include the latest automotive safety technology, including advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). 

Highest ranked by category are:

Category Vehicle
Overall 2020 Volvo S90 T8 E-AWD R-Design (plug-in hybrid)
Small 2019 Nissan Leaf SV Plus (electric)
Midsize 2019 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE (hybrid)
Large 2020 Volvo S90 T8 E-AWD R-Design (plug-in hybrid)
Pickup 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 2WD Crew Cab SLT (diesel)            
SUV/Minivan 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited (plug-in hybrid)
Best Under $30,000 2019 Honda Insight 4-door Touring (hybrid)
Best $30,000-$50,000 2019 Kia Niro EV EX Premium (electric)
Best Over $50,000 2020 Volvo S90 T8 E-AWD R-Design (plug-in hybrid)

“These days, a vehicle buyer may feel overwhelmed or confused not only by the differences of how the vehicle is powered – either by gasoline, hybrid, plug-in hybrid or electric – but by which of the safety features they need and how those work in the real world,” said Megan McKernan, manager of Automotive Research Center. “Our evaluations are designed to help drivers select a safe and comfortable vehicle that meets their needs.”  

As buyers return to the market, industry groups such as the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) are providing dealerships with guidance on how to safely interact with car buyers. This includes procedures on keeping employees and customers safe, cleaning and disinfecting dealership facilities and vehicles and safely handling sales operations. Some dealerships are even modifying their buying process and offering to deliver vehicles to customers for test drives.

The AAA Car Guide is designed to help consumers navigate new car buying since many of the latest models come equipped with some sort of advanced safety system, many of which go by different names. In fact, previously AAA analyzed 34 vehicle brands sold in the United States to identify the number of unique names manufacturers use to market ADAS. For example, automatic emergency braking, standard on 31% of 2018 vehicles, has 40 names for just this one feature. As a result, AAA along with other safety organizations has called on the industry to move towards common naming to help clear the confusion for consumers.

The AAA Car Guide also contains a compendium of AAA’s recent research of current automotive technologies and topics, such as advanced driver-assistance systems, gasoline quality, the advantages of synthetic oil, reduced tire traction in wet-weather driving, and headlight effectiveness.

Winners, detailed evaluation criteria, vehicle reviews and an in-depth analysis of the ADAS technology can be found at aaa.com/carguide.

AAA provides more than 60 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 32 motor clubs and more than 1,000 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

(May 12, 2020) – AAA, Consumer Reports, J.D. Power and the National Safety Council commends SAE International in its endorsement of common naming of advanced driver assistance systems as well as its consideration to revise the SAE J3063 Standard to directly support the effort of clearing the confusion for consumers regarding new vehicle technology. For the full announcement from SAE, click here.

The most current list of common ADAS naming can be found here.

Relief packages to return more than $285M amid reduction in miles-driven

Washington, D.C. (April 20, 2020) – AAA, North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, understands the financial challenges and uncertainty many Americans are facing. As we stay home and vehicles are driven less, AAA insurers have announced relief packages that will refund more than $285M to auto policyholders.

AAA auto insurance policyholders insured through Auto Club Enterprises Insurance Group, AAA – The Auto Club Group, Motor Club Insurance Company in Rhode Island and CSAA Insurance Group are eligible for the refund. The refund comes in response to a reduction in miles driven and, as a result, an anticipated decrease in the number of insurance claims.

“Right now, we can all use good news. Where AAA can make that happen for our members facing difficult times – be it providing roadside service, rebooking a vacation or putting money back in wallets – AAA stands ready to assist,” said Marshall Doney, AAA president and CEO. “For over 100 years, we have been there for our Members and we will continue to be there as we move forward.”

AAA insurers are independently operated, and timeframes and other details concerning the refund vary by insurer. To learn more about the refund, members can visit AAA.com.

In addition to relief packages, a number of AAA clubs are providing free roadside service for healthcare workers and first responders amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Within their communities, clubs are providing local support including purchasing and delivering meals to first responders, donating supplies to healthcare centers and contributing over $1 million to United Way and other charities for local COVID-19 relief efforts. Frontline heroes can also find special discount offers, including free standard oil change, at select car care centers.

About AAA: AAA provides more than 60 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 33 motor clubs and more than 1,000 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel, or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.  

About Auto Club Enterprises Insurance Group:  Auto Club Enterprises Insurance Group, rated A+ by AM Best, is part of Auto Club Enterprises, the largest member of the AAA federation of motor clubs serving more than 17 million members in 21 states.  Its members benefit by roadside assistance, insurance products and services, travel agency, financial products, automotive pricing and buying programs, automotive testing and analysis, and traffic safety programs. Information about these products and services is available on the AAA Mobile App or website at www.AAA.com 

About AAA – The Auto Club Group: AAA – The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, insurance, banking, financial services, and travel offerings to over 13.5 million members across 13 U.S. states, the province of Quebec and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico, South Carolina and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 60 million members in the United States and Canada whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel, and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. Visit AAA on the Internet at AAA.com.

About AAA Northeast – AAA Northeast is a not-for-profit auto club with 64 offices in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire and New York, providing more than 5.7 million local AAA members with travel, insurance, finance, and auto-related services. It’s Motor Club Insurance Company provides insurance products to insureds in Rhode Island.

About CSAA Insurance Group – CSAA Insurance Group, a AAA Insurer, offers automobile, homeowners and other personal lines of insurance to AAA Members through AAA clubs in 23 states and the District of Columbia. Founded in 1914, the company has been rated “A” or better by A.M. Best for more than 90 years, and is one of the top personal lines property casualty insurance groups in the United States, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The company has been repeatedly named one of the 50 most community-minded companies in America by Points of Light. More information is available at http://csaa-insurance.aaa.com and on social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram).

AAA finds only 12% of drivers would feel safe riding in a car that drives itself

ORLANDO, Fla. (Mar. 5, 2020) –A new AAA survey on automated vehicles reveals that only one in ten drivers (12%) would trust riding in a self-driving car. Even more Americans – 28% – don’t know how they feel about the technology, signaling consumers are stuck in neutral on the road to accepting self-driving cars. AAA believes consumer sentiment of automated vehicles will be driven by tangible information on key issues and, equally important, quality education and experience. 

Additional Resources

Consumers told AAA that they have a desire to see more news stories or public information on key issues surrounding self-driving vehicles like safety and liability:

  • Six in ten (57%) Americans say they would like to have a clear understanding of who will be legally responsible in the event of a crash with a self-driving vehicle.
  • Half (51%) are interested about laws to make sure self-driving cars are safe.
  • Half (49%) want to know how vulnerable they will be to hackers.

“Consumers have made it clear what it will take to overcome their doubts – consistent and transparent information – which will help make them feel safer about the idea of riding in a self-driving car,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “AAA’s automated vehicle survey tell us when people have the opportunity to take back control or even build their understanding of how this technology works, they are much more likely to embrace it.”

Americans specifically voiced their opinion on what would make them feel safer about self-driving cars. Seven in ten (72%) U.S. adults would feel safer riding in a self-driving car if they had the ability to take over control if something goes wrong. A similar proportion (69%) would feel safer if there was a human backup driver. Half (47%) would feel safer knowing the self-driving car has passed rigorous testing and inspections. Four in ten (42%) would feel safer after seeing or experiencing a demonstration prior to getting into a self-driving car.

“Knowing how people truly feel about self-driving cars will help the industry to identify the steps needed to move consumers towards greater acceptance,” continued Brannon.

Automated vehicles are still decades away from hitting the roads, however AAA conducts research like this study and others to help inform and encourage the industry, media and policymakers to find ways to help consumers connect better with advanced vehicle technology.

Methodology

Due to a change in methodology in 2020, this year’s survey results are not directly comparable to results from prior years. This survey was conducted January 17 – 19, 2020, using a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. household population overall. The panel provides sample coverage of approximately 97% of the U.S. household population. Most surveys were completed online; consumers without internet access were surveyed over the phone. A total of 1,301 interviews were completed among U.S. adults, 18 years of age or older. The margin of error for the study overall is 4% at the 95% confidence level. Smaller subgroups have larger error margins.

About AAA

AAA provides more than 60 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,000 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

New study pulls back the curtain on the experience of going green and costs of ownership

ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 22, 2020) – New research from AAA finds that over five years and 75,000 miles of driving, the annual cost of owning a new compact electric vehicle is only slightly more expensive – about $600 annually – than its gas-powered counterpart. The study also revealed that the experience of owning an electric vehicle eases one of the biggest fears associated with these cars – range anxiety. 

Additional Resources

According to AAA’s survey, prior to owning an electric vehicle, a majority of owners (91%) said that they had at least one concern – things like insufficient range, implications for long-distance travel and finding a place to charge. Post purchase, many of these worries disappeared. AAA believes that if consumers have a better understanding of the real cost and experience of owning an electric vehicle, then the gap between expressed interest and adoption will begin to close.

“Although 40 million Americans have shown interest in buying electric for their next car, actual adoption is happening at a much slower rate,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “AAA wanted to understand what kind of impact the experience of owning an electric vehicle has on perception of these cars and maybe more importantly, if given the chance would consumers choose to go green again.”

AAA’s survey of electric vehicle owners, 71% of whom had not previously owned an electric car, revealed some interesting results:

  • The majority (96%) say they would buy or lease another electric vehicle the next time they were in the market for a new car.
  • Two in five (43%) say they drive more now than when they owned a gas-powered car. On average, electric vehicle owners drive 39 miles per day.
  • Three quarters (78%) also have a gas-powered car in the household, yet they report doing a majority of their driving (87%) in their electric vehicle.

Perhaps the most surprising result of the survey was the impact ownership has on commonly-held fears about electric vehicles, particularly those that have deterred consumers from making the leap to green. Previous AAA research has found that the top two reasons why Americans shy away from electric vehicles are not enough places to charge (58%) and the fear that they will run out of charge while driving (57%). Almost all owners surveyed (95%) report never having run out of a charge while driving and on average, they do three fourths (75%) of their charging at home. Likely as a result, those who were originally concerned about insufficient range said they became less or no longer concerned post-purchase (77%).

“Range anxiety has been synonymous with electric vehicles from the beginning,” said Brannon. “Hearing firsthand from owners that this is no longer a worry may change the mind of those who have otherwise been skeptical to the idea of owning an electric vehicle.”

Employing the same methodology used for its annual Your Driving Costs study, AAA calculated the costs for owning a new compact electric vehicle as compared to that of its gas-powered counterpart. Although the study found that overall cost of electric vehicle ownership is 8% more per year, individual categories such as fuel and maintenance/repair are lower.

  • Fuel – the electricity required to drive 15,000 miles per year in a compact electric vehicle costs an average of  $546, while the amount of gas required to drive the same distance costs $1,255 (or 130%) more.
  • Maintenance/Repair/Tires – electric vehicles do not require as much maintenance as gas-powered ones since they don’t need oil changes or air-filter replacements. If maintained according to the automakers’ recommendations, electric vehicles cost $330 less than a gas-powered car, a total of $949/annually.

Vehicle ownership, whether electric or gas-powered, is a personal choice that should take many factors into consideration. For consumers who are interested in electric vehicles, AAA recommends visiting a dealership, test driving one and asking as many questions as possible to make an informed decision.

Methodology

The electric vehicle and internal combustion engine driving costs in this study were established using the proprietary methodology employed for AAA’s Your Driving Costs (YDC) project. The 2019 electric vehicle models selected for this study were:  Chevrolet Bolt (LT), Hyundai Ionic Electric (Base), Kia Soul EV (+), Nissan Leaf (SV) and Volkswagen eGolf (SE). The 2019 internal combustion engine vehicles selected for the comparison were:  Chevrolet Cruze (LS), Honda Civic (LX), Hyundai Elantra (SE), Nissan Sentra (SV) and Toyota Corolla (SE). This methodology models the purchase of a new vehicle for personal use over a period of five years and 75,000 miles. A copy of the 2019 AAA Your Driving Costs brochure with the latest study results is available at https://bit.ly/35I5GG8.

The survey of electric vehicle owners was conducted using a consumer panel maintained by a third-party electric vehicle research firm. The online panel consists of more than 40,000 electric vehicles owners, weighted to balance drivers by vehicle type, make and model. In total, 1,090 surveys with plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) owners were completed during a 24 hour period on October 1, 2019.

About AAA

AAA provides more than 60 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

A new survey from AAA found that this holiday season, an estimated 84 million (33%) Americans plan to purchase a real Christmas tree and will be faced with the task of getting it home safely. Just like moving furniture, appliances or other large objects, transporting a tree is no different. If not properly secured, a tree can cause vehicle damage such as scratched paint, torn door seals or distorted window frames. Even worse, it could fly off or out of the vehicle and become a danger to other drivers. AAA’s survey revealed that 44% of Americans who plan to purchase a real Christmas tree will transport the tree using unsafe methods. This includes 20% who will tie the tree to the roof of their vehicle without using a roof rack and 24% who plan to place the tree in the bed of their pickup truck unsecured. Among those planning to purchase a live Christmas tree this year, 16% have previously experienced a Christmas tree falling off or out of their vehicle during transport. Previous research from AAA found that road debris caused more than 200,000 crashes during a four-year period, resulting in approximately 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths.

Additional Resources

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transporting a real Christmas tree home is easy as long as you have the right tools and follow AAA’s simple tips:

  • Before heading out to buy a real Christmas tree, make sure to bring strong rope or nylon ratchet straps, an old blanket, gloves and of course – the right vehicle. One with a roof rack is ideal but a pickup truck, SUV, van or minivan can work just as well.
  • Once you’ve found the perfect tree, have the lot wrap it in netting before loading it. Loose branches can also be secured with rope or twine to help protect the tree from damage.
  • Prior to loading the tree, cover the roof with an old blanket to prevent scratches to the paint and protect the car from any damage.
  • Place the tree on the roof rack or in the bed of the truck with the trunk facing the front of the car. If the vehicle does not have a roof rack and is a SUV, CUV, van or minivan – place the tree inside. If not, rent or borrow a pickup truck, a vehicle with a roof rack or one that is large enough to accommodate the tree inside.
  • Secure the tree at its bottom, center and top using strong rope or nylon ratchet straps. Avoid using the twine offered by many tree lots. Use fixed vehicle tie-down points and loop the rope or strap around the tree trunk above a branch to prevent any side-to-side or front-to-rear movement.
  • Once tied down, give the tree several strong tugs from various angles to make sure it is secured in place and will not come loose.
  • Drive slowly and take back roads if possible. Higher speeds can create significant airflow that can damage your tree or challenge even the best tie-down methods.

(November 20, 2019) – As leaders in consumer advocacy, traffic safety and industry advice, four organizations – AAA, Consumer Reports, J.D. Power and the National Safety Council – have come together to adopt standardized naming for advanced driver assistance technology in an effort to reduce confusion. To help educate consumers on the benefits, limitations and proper use of these technologies, the four organizations are calling on all safety organizations, automakers and journalists covering the automotive industry to join them in adopting these terms.

Additional Resources

Automotive technology continues to evolve quickly with 93% of new vehicles offering at least one advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) feature. Earlier this year, AAA research found that consumers are faced with as many as 20 names for a single ADAS feature, varying by vehicle manufacturer. This can cause confusion. And while the technology has the potential to improve safety and save lives, the terminology often seems to prioritize marketing over clarity.

As a result, the four organizations have agreed on standardized naming that is simple, specific and based on system functionality. It is believed that, by adopting common terminology across systems, consumers will have a better understanding that this technology is intended to assist and not replace an engaged driver. These terms are not meant to replace automotive manufacturers’ proprietary system or package names; rather, they are meant to achieve clearer and consistent information on window stickers, owner’s manuals and other marketing materials on generic system components.

At this time, five categories have been created to group technology by type. The naming list will be continually refined as these organizations work with stakeholders and policymakers and as new systems come to market. For details on the full list, click here.

About AAA

AAA provides more than 60 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,000 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

About Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit membership organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. For more than 80 years, CR has provided evidence-based product testing and ratings, rigorous research, hard-hitting investigative journalism, public education, and steadfast policy action on behalf of consumers’ interests. Unconstrained by advertising or other commercial influences, CR has exposed landmark public health and safety issues and strives to be a catalyst for pro-consumer changes in the marketplace. From championing responsible auto safety standards, to winning food and water protections, to enhancing healthcare quality, to fighting back against predatory lenders in the financial markets, Consumer Reports has always been on the front lines, raising the voices of consumers.

About J.D. Power

J.D. Power is a global leader in consumer insights, advisory services and data and analytics. These capabilities enable J.D. Power to help its clients drive customer satisfaction, growth and profitability. Established in 1968, J.D. Power has offices serving North America, South America, Asia Pacific and Europe.

About the National Safety Council

The National Safety Council (nsc.org) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where we can make the most impact.

 

Study finds safety systems fail at night when the majority of pedestrian vehicle fatalities occur

Additional Resources

ORLANDO, Fla. (Oct. 3, 2019) – New research from AAA reveals that automatic emergency braking systems with pedestrian detection perform inconsistently, and proved to be completely ineffective at night. An alarming result, considering 75% of pedestrian fatalities occur after dark. The systems were also challenged by real-world situations, like a vehicle turning right into the path of an adult. AAA’s testing found that in this simulated scenario, the systems did not react at all, colliding with the adult pedestrian target every time. For the safety of everyone on the road, AAA supports the continued development of pedestrian detection systems, specifically when it comes to improving functionality at night and in circumstances where drivers are most likely to encounter pedestrians.

On average, nearly 6,000 pedestrians lose their lives each year, accounting for 16% of all traffic deaths, a percentage that has steadily grown since 2010.

“Pedestrian fatalities are on the rise, proving how important the safety impact of these systems could be when further developed,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “But, our research found that current systems are far from perfect and still require an engaged driver behind the wheel.”

While time of day and location are contributing factors to pedestrian fatalities, vehicle speed also plays a major role. Previous research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that pedestrians are at greater risk for severe injury or death the faster a car is traveling at the time of impact. For example, a pedestrian hit by a vehicle traveling at 20 mph has an 18% risk of severe injury or death. Increase that by just 10 mph to 30 mph and the risk more than doubles to 47%. AAA’s latest study found that speed impacted system performance as well, with results varying between testing performed at 20 mph and 30 mph.

In partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, AAA evaluated the performance of four midsize sedans equipped with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection to determine the effectiveness of these systems. Testing was conducted on a closed course using simulated pedestrian targets for the following scenarios:

  • An adult crossing in front of a vehicle traveling at 20 mph and 30 mph during the day and at 25 mph at night.
  • A child darting out from between two parked cars in front of a vehicle traveling at 20 mph and 30 mph.
  • A vehicle turning right onto an adjacent road with an adult crossing at the same time.
  • Two adults standing along the side of the road with their backs to traffic, with a vehicle approaching at 20 mph and 30 mph.

Overall, the systems performed best in the instance of the adult crossing in front of a vehicle traveling at 20 mph during the day. In this case, the systems avoided a collision 40% of the time. But, at the higher speed of 30 mph, most systems failed to avoid a collision with the simulated pedestrian target. The other scenarios proved to be more challenging for the systems:

  • When encountering a child darting from between two cars, with the vehicle traveling at 20 mph, a collision occurred 89% of the time.
  • Immediately following a right hand turn, all of the test vehicles collided with the adult pedestrian.
  • When approaching two adults standing alongside the road, with the vehicle traveling at 20 mph, a collision occurred 80% of the time.
  • In general, the systems were ineffective in all scenarios where the vehicle was traveling at 30 mph.
  • At night, none of the systems detected or reacted to the adult pedestrian.

“The rise in pedestrian deaths is a major concern and automakers are on the right path with the intent of these systems,” continued Brannon. “Our goal with this testing is to identify where the gaps exist to help educate consumers and share these findings with manufacturers to work to improve their functionality.”

New vehicle technology can alert drivers and assist in lessening the likelihood or severity of a crash – whether with another vehicle or even more importantly, a pedestrian. But, until these systems are proven to perform consistently – especially pedestrian detection systems – during the day and at night and in a range of situations, AAA recommends drivers always:

  • Be alert of their immediate surroundings. Do not rely on pedestrian detection systems to prevent a crash. This technology should only serve as a backup and not a replacement for an engaged driver.
  • Read the owner’s manual to understand what safety systems the vehicle is equipped with. Before leaving the lot, ask the dealer to explain how these systems work, including what safety system alerts sound and look like and what triggers their activation.
  • Use extra caution when driving at night since this is the riskiest time for pedestrians and where the systems struggled the most. Previous AAA research found that headlights, even in new condition, do not provide the amount of light needed for drivers to appropriately react to something or someone in the roadway.

It is a driver’s responsibility to yield to pedestrians, but those traveling by foot should be diligent as well. Pedestrians should use caution by staying on sidewalks and using crosswalks as often as possible. Always obey traffic signals, look both ways before crossing the street and do not walk and text.

Methodology

To assess the capabilities of pedestrian detection systems, AAA conducted primary research in partnership with the Automotive Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center in Los Angeles, California. Track testing was conducted on closed surface streets on the grounds of the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

Four test vehicles were selected (2019 Chevy Malibu, 2019 Honda Accord, 2019 Tesla Model 3 and 2019 Toyota Camry) using specific criteria and each test vehicle was outfitted using industry-standard instrumentation, sensors and cameras to capture vehicle dynamics, position data and visual notifications from the pedestrian detection system. Three simulated pedestrian targets were used including two dynamic models and each were outfitted with industry-standard instrumentation to time movement as well as receive position, speed and acceleration from the dynamic target. Complete methodology can be found in the full research report here.

About AAA

AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

Need AAA Roadside Help? Just talk to Google or Alexa

September 24th, 2019 by AAA Public Affairs

New Feature Uses Digital Assistants to Place Service Requests

ORLANDO, Fla. (September 24, 2019) – AAA members needing emergency service can now get help just by talking to their digital assistant. A new AAA-developed feature for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa allows members to forgo the call and make requests for some roadside service needs, such as fuel refills, battery replacements, or flat tire repairs directly through their digital assistants.

“Roadside service is the leading reason members join AAA. With 1 in 3 calls originating from home, this new feature for Amazon Alexa and Google Home provides an innovative, convenient way for members to request service,” said AAA Chief Technology Officer Ramon Millan. “These sorts of services are something people have come to expect.”

There are about 118 million digital assistants in use in U.S. homes, and that number is growing every day.

Before using the feature – also called a “skill” – users must enable Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa on their smart device. To request help, members instruct Amazon Alexa to “Open AAA Road Service,” or tell Google Assistant to “Talk to AAA Road Service.” The skill works with home digital assistants, smartphones or tablets.

The first time a member uses the skill, they will be asked to provide information to confirm their AAA membership. Once that’s been done, the skill will talk them through the service-request process. In 2017, AAA unveiled a similar voice-activated service that allows members to find AAA-approved restaurants.

“This new feature has the potential to change the way many members interact with AAA – especially members who are digital natives,” said Millan.

For now, the skill allows members to make certain types of roadside service requests only. Those include battery boost/replacement, fuel delivery, vehicle lockout service and flat tire service. AAA is exploring opportunities to expand the system to accommodate full-service requests such as towing.

About AAA:

AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

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