Archive for the ‘Auto’ Category

New research finds vehicle escape tools effective in breaking tempered side windows, but not laminated

ORLANDO, Fla. (July 16, 2019) – New research from AAA reveals that most vehicle escape tools, intended to quickly aid passengers trapped in a car following an accident, will break tempered side windows, but none were able to penetrate laminated glass. Motorists may not realize it, but an increasing number of new cars – in fact, 1 in 3 2018 vehicle models – have laminated side windows, a nearly unbreakable glass meant to lessen the chance of occupant ejection during a collision. AAA urges drivers to know what type of side window glass is installed on their vehicle, keep a secure and easily accessible escape tool in their car and have a backup plan in case an escape tool cannot be used or doesn’t work.

Additional Resources

In its latest study, AAA examined a selection of vehicle escape tools available to consumers to determine their effectiveness in breaking tempered and laminated vehicle side windows. Of the six tools selected (three spring-loaded and three hammer style), AAA researchers found that only four were able to shatter the tempered glass and none were able to break the laminated glass, which stayed intact even after being cracked. During multiple rounds of testing, it was also discovered that the spring-loaded tools were more effective in breaking tempered windows than the hammer-style.

“To improve safety, more vehicles are being equipped with laminated side windows – but a majority also have at least one window made of tempered glass,” said John Nielsen, managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair for AAA. “Our research found that generally vehicle escape tools can be effective in an emergency, but only if drivers know what type of side windows they have, otherwise they could waste precious seconds trying to break glass that will not shatter.”

Drivers can determine the type of glass installed on their vehicle by first checking for a label located in the bottom corner of the side window, which should clearly indicate whether the glass is tempered or laminated. If this information is not included or there is no label at all, AAA advises contacting the vehicle manufacturer. It is also important to note that some vehicles are outfitted with different glass at varying locations in the car (i.e. tempered glass on rear side windows versus laminated on front side windows).

The increased use of laminated glass is in response to federal safety standards aimed at reducing occupant ejections in high speed collisions. In 2017, there were an estimated 21,400 people who were partially or fully ejected during a crash, resulting in 11,200 injuries and 5,053 deaths. While these types of crashes are more prevalent, there are instances where vehicles may catch fire or become partially or fully submerged in water, forcing drivers and their passengers to exit the vehicle through a side window. In situations like this, vehicle escape tools can assist ahead of emergency responders arriving.

Vehicle escape tools come in many varieties, but AAA suggests avoiding tools with extra features such as lights or chargers since these functions do not improve the performance of the tool itself. Drivers should also remember that in the event their vehicle is submerged, a hammer-style escape tool (as opposed to a spring-loaded-style) will be ineffective underwater.  

“Drivers should pick a tool they feel comfortable with and find easy to use, but most importantly they should store it somewhere that is secure and within reach following a collision,” added Nielsen.

Being prepared in an emergency can greatly improve the chances of survival, especially if drivers and their passengers have become trapped in the vehicle. AAA strongly recommends drivers do the following:

Prepare ahead of time:

  • Memorize the type of glass the vehicle windows are made of – tempered or laminated. If the car has at least one tempered window, this will be the best point of exit in an emergency. Also, remember – standard escape tools will not break laminated glass.
  • Keep an escape tool in the car that the driver is comfortable using, has previously tested and is easy to access following a collision. To make sure a vehicle escape tool is working properly, test it ahead of time on a softer surface such as a piece of soft wood. The tool works if the tip impacts the surface, leaving a small indent in the material.
  • Plan an exit strategy in advance and communicate it to everyone in the car. This will help avoid confusion in an emergency, which could increase the time it takes to exit the vehicle. Also, have a backup plan in case an escape tool cannot be used or doesn’t work.

If trapped in a vehicle, remember there is a S-U-R-E way out:

  • Stay calm. While time is of the essence – work cautiously to ensure everyone safely exits the vehicle.
  • Unbuckle seat belts and check to see that everyone is ready to leave the car when it’s time.
  • Roll down or break a window – remember if the car is sinking in water, once the window is open the water will rush into the car at a faster rate. If the window will not open and the car has tempered glass, use an escape tool to break a side window to escape. Drivers should also remember that:
    • Drivers and/or occupants should make every effort to roll down a window as soon as the vehicle enters the water. However, if a window will not open or cannot be broken because it is laminated, call 911 immediately.
    • If the vehicle is submerged, a hammer-style escape tool (as opposed to a spring-loaded-style) could be much harder to swing underwater.
  • Exit the vehicle quickly and move everyone to safety.
  • Call 911 – while this is typically the first step in an emergency, if a vehicle has hit the water or is on fire, it is best to try to escape first.

Methodology

For testing methodology, refer to the full report by clicking 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.

Why Aren’t Americans Plugging in to Electric Vehicles?

May 9th, 2019 by AAA Public Affairs

AAA finds interest in going green remains steady but consumers still slow to adopt

ORLANDO, Fla. (May. 9, 2019) – AAA’s latest survey reveals that despite many Americans having interest in electric vehicles, when asked if most vehicles will be electric by 2029, only 4 in 10 said yes. Yet, a separate study AAA conducted earlier this year found that more than half of Americans believe that in this same timeframe most cars will have the ability to drive themselves – a reality that is much less likely to happen. AAA believes that similar to other emerging technologies, a lack of knowledge and experience may be contributing to the slow adoption of electric vehicles despite Americans’ desire to go green.

Additional Resources

“Today, more than 200,000 electric cars can be found on roads across the country as almost every manufacturer sells them,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “But, like other new vehicle technologies, Americans don’t have the full story and that could be causing the gap between interest and action.”

AAA’s annual survey that tracks opinions regarding electric and hybrid vehicles found that while consumer interest remains steady, Americans may not have a solid understanding of electric vehicle performance, which may be giving consumers pause when it comes to considering electric for their next purchase. For instance, electric vehicles, unlike those running on gas, do better in stop and go traffic because the car can recapture energy to charge the battery when decelerating. However, AAA’s survey found that a majority of Americans (59 percent) were unsure of whether electric vehicles have better range when driving at highways speeds or in stop and go traffic. This demonstrates that many consumers are not sure what to expect from an electric vehicle in two of the most common driving scenarios.

Although most Americans don’t believe electric vehicles will be on the road in masses in the next 10 years, AAA did find that 40 million Americans say they would be likely to consider an electric vehicle for their next car purchase, with Millennials leading the pack. Concern for the environment and lower long-term costs remain the leading reasons to go green (74 percent and 56 percent respectively). Previous objections to buying electric with regards to price and range anxiety continue to ease and have trended downward significantly:

  • Concern that there are not enough places to charge – down 11 percentage points from 2017
  • Concern about running out of charge when driving – down 11 percentage points from 2017
  • Higher cost of battery repair or replacement – down 8 percentage points from 2017
  • Higher purchase price – down 6 percentage points from 2017

“These vehicles are a big part of the future of transportation since self-driving cars, when they do arrive, will likely be electric,” continued Brannon. “The difference, of course, is that electric vehicles are already here and with the advancements in style and range that have been made over the last few years, they have become an even more viable option for many Americans.”  

Consumers interested in electric vehicles, but still unsure should research and learn as much as possible about these types of cars. AAA also recommends drivers visit a dealership, test drive an electric vehicle and ask as many questions as possible of the dealer and other electric vehicle owners. It is also important to understand charging options available at home to ensure consumers can take full advantage of electric vehicle technology with the least inconvenience.

Each year AAA (Automobile Club of Southern California Automotive Research Center) produces its Green Car Guide, which rates electric vehicles as well as hybrids and highly fuel efficient cars based on criteria such as ride quality, safety and performance. This comprehensive guide can serve as a resource to consumers since it not only provides detailed reviews of each car tested, but also offers robust information on green vehicles. Consumers who are on the fence will find that this guide can be a valuable resource for learning more about electric and other environmentally friendly vehicles.

“Consumers may not realize it, but they have many options when it comes to shopping for an electric vehicle,” said Megan McKernan, manager of Automotive Research Center. “The Green Car Guide can help first-time and even return buyers navigate the marketplace and dispel any misconceptions they may have about these types of vehicles.”

In 2019, the following vehicles earned AAA’s Top Green Car award:

Category Vehicle
Overall 2019 Jaguar I-Pace EV400 HSE
Subcompact Car 2019 Chevy Bolt Premier
Compact Car 2018 Nissan Leaf SL
Midsize Car 2018 Tesla Model 3 RWD
Large Car 2018 Tesla Model S P100D
Pickup 2018 Ford F-150 4×4 Supercrew
SUV/Minivan 2019 Jaguar I-Pace EV400 HSE
Best Under $30K 2019 Toyota Camry SE
Best $30K – $50K 2018 Nissan Leaf SL
Best Over $50K 2019 Jaguar I-Pace EV400 HSE

Winners, detailed evaluation criteria, vehicle reviews and an in-depth analysis of the green vehicle industry can be found at AAA.com/greencar.

Methodology

A telephone omnibus survey was conducted April 4-7, 2019. A total of 1,000 interviews were completed among adults, 18 years of age or older.

A dual-frame approach was used that combined land-line and cell phone interviews to ensure that adults who only or primarily communicate via cell phones are included and properly represented. Survey responses are weighted by six variables (age, gender, geographic region, race/ethnicity, education, and landline vs. cell phone only) to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total continental US population, 18 years of age and older.

The margin of error for the study is 3.8% at the 95% confidence level. Smaller subgroups will have larger error margins.

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.

AAA’s research shows the importance of allowing Adaptive Driving Beam Headlights on U.S. roads

ORLANDO, Fla. (Apr. 16, 2019) – Driving at night carries the highest fatality rate for both drivers and pedestrians but could be made safer by headlight technology already on the roads in Europe and Canada. New research from AAA found that European vehicles equipped with adaptive driving beam headlights (ADB) increase roadway lighting by as much as 86 percent when compared to U.S. low beam headlights. AAA believes this technology, not presently allowed by U.S. standards, is the first real solution to providing more light for drivers at night and AAA supports changes in the law to allow ADB to be used to its full capability.

Additional Resources

“Driving at night doesn’t have to be such a risky undertaking for Americans,” said John Nielsen, managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair, AAA. “The technology not only exists but is being used in other parts of the world to effectively provide the amount of light needed to keep drivers and pedestrians safer.” 

Previous AAA research found that a majority of Americans (64 percent) do not regularly use their high beams. This means when driving at moderate speeds like 40 mph with low beams on, motorists will not have enough time to appropriately react to something or someone in the roadway. High beams, however, improve forward illumination by 28 percent in comparison and are much more effective at providing the proper amount of light when traveling at higher speeds. With ADB, the high beams are always on and when another vehicle is detected, that area is shaded to prevent glare that would otherwise interfere with the other driver’s field of vision.

Some newer U.S. vehicles are equipped with a similar technology that automatically switches between high and low beam, which does help to address this issue and increase visibility, but only when other vehicles aren’t present. However, once an oncoming or preceding vehicle is detected, the car will switch from high to low beams, thus losing the benefit of the additional light.

Another shortcoming in the U.S. standards is how headlights are assessed for regulatory compliance. Currently, just the headlamp assembly is evaluated as a stand-alone part. This is done by static testing in a lab, which does not capture critical aspects of on-road illuminance and performance, especially when evaluating a dynamic technology like ADB. The performance of these systems is dependent on the presence and location of other vehicles, as well as the camera/sensor, software and mechanism used to control the beam pattern.

“Real-world driving does not take place in a lab,” continued Nielsen. “Roads vary in so many ways – some have hills, others sharp turns – by not conducting track testing, a lot of valuable insight is missed into how headlight technology could be enhanced.”

Following a petition from Toyota, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed an amendment last fall to allow manufacturers the option of equipping vehicles with ADB systems. AAA submitted comments to NHTSA regarding the proposed changes along with supporting primary research in an effort to provide insight into the performance of ADB as it exists today.

“AAA supports adaptive driving beam headlights and NHTSA’s work in this area to consider changing the current standards,” said Jill Ingrassia, managing director of Government Relations &Traffic Safety Advocacy. “Allowing ADB will not only improve roadway visibility but the safety of every driver and pedestrian who must travel at night.”

A new headlight standard and testing protocol could still be a few years away, which means drivers should take other precautions when driving at night. AAA recommends:

  • When driving after dark on unlit roadways, use high beams whenever possible. There is a difference between seeing the roadway markings, signs, and other vehicles, versus being able to perceive a non‐reflective object in your path.
  • Monitor and adjust driving speeds when traveling on unlit roads at night to allow enough time to detect, react and stop the vehicle in order to avoid striking a pedestrian, animal or object in the roadway.
  • If your car’s headlamp lenses are anything but crystal clear, have them restored or replaced to improve light output.

AAA engages in research, surveys and a significant amount of automotive testing on new and emerging vehicle technologies to help educate the driving public and keep the roadways safe. Previous research in this area includes the use of high beam versus low beam (U.S. only) and the impact of deteriorated headlights on nighttime visibility.

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.

AAA believes testing, experience and education will aid consumer acceptance

ORLANDO, Fla. (Mar. 14, 2019) – A year after a number of high-profile automated vehicle incidents, American attitudes toward fully self-driving cars have not rebounded. AAA’s annual automated vehicle survey found that 71 percent of people are afraid to ride in fully self-driving vehicles – indicating that overall sentiment has not yet returned to what it was prior to these incidents occurring (63 percent). AAA believes the key to helping consumers feel more comfortable with fully self-driving vehicles will be bridging the gap between the perception of automated vehicle technology and the reality of how it actually works in today’s cars.

Additional Resources

“Automated vehicle technology is evolving on a very public stage and, as a result, it is affecting how consumers feel about it,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “Having the opportunity to interact with partially or fully automated vehicle technology will help remove some of the mystery for consumers and open the door for greater acceptance.”

Experience seems to play a key role in impacting how drivers feel about automated vehicle technology. Many cars on the road today are equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), which are considered the building blocks for fully self-driving vehicles. AAA’s recent survey revealed that regular interaction with ADAS components like lane keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and self-parking significantly improves consumer comfort level. On average, drivers who have one of these four ADAS technologies are about 68 percent more likely to trust these features than drivers who don’t have them.

Even more promising, AAA found that Americans are receptive to the idea of automated vehicle technology in more limited applications. About half (53 percent) are comfortable with low-speed, short distance forms of transportation like people movers found at airports or theme parks while 44 percent are comfortable with fully self-driving vehicles for delivery of food or packages. However, once the passengers become more personal – in particular, transporting their loved ones – one in five remain comfortable.

“Despite fears still running high, AAA’s study also shows that Americans are willing to take baby steps toward incorporating this type of technology into their lives,” continued Brannon. “Hands-on exposure in more controlled, low-risk environments coupled with stronger education will play a key role in easing fears about self-driving cars.”

Recently, AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah, in partnership with the city of Las Vegas, Keolis North America and the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC), piloted the first and largest self-driving shuttle for the public to operate in live traffic, in an effort to give more people the opportunity to gain real-world experience with automated vehicle transportation. The self-driving shuttle was the first in the country to be fully integrated with smart city infrastructure and operate on open, public roads. Participants had the voluntary opportunity to take a survey post-ride regarding the impact of their personal experience with the shuttle on their perception of self-driving vehicles. Of those who responded, many reported their sentiment improved following the experience of riding the shuttle.

Currently, more than half of Americans (55 percent) think that by 2029, most cars will have the ability to drive themselves, however, this timeline may be overly optimistic given the number of vehicles already on the road today. Those who are skeptical that fully self-driving cars will arrive that soon, cite reasons such as lack of trust, not wanting to give up driving, the technology won’t be ready and that road conditions will not be good enough to support the technology.

While experts agree that a fully self-driving fleet is still decades away, it is likely that more highly automated vehicles will be on the roads in the coming years. The more drivers understand both the benefits and limitations of the technology that is currently available, AAA believes the more prepared and receptive they will be for the experience of riding in a fully automated vehicle when the time comes.

To help educate consumers on the effectiveness of emerging vehicle technologies, AAA is committed to conducting ongoing, unbiased testing of automated vehicle technologies as well as researching how related emerging technologies can help reduce or prevent crashes. Previous research includes ADAS technology naming, testing of driver support systems and the annual automated vehicle survey (2016, 2017, January 2018 and April 2018).

Methodology

A telephone omnibus survey was conducted January 10-13, 2019. A total of 1,008 interviews were completed among adults, 18 years of age or older.

A dual-frame approach was used that combined landline and cell phone interviews to ensure that adults who only or primarily communicate via cell phones are included and properly represented. Survey responses are weighted by six variables (age, gender, geographic region, race/ethnicity, education, and landline vs. cell phone only) to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total continental US population, 18 years of age and older.

The margin of error for the study is 4% at the 95% confidence level. Smaller subgroups will have larger error margins.

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.

Icy Temperatures Cut Electric Vehicle Range Nearly in Half

February 7th, 2019 by AAA Public Affairs

AAA research finds HVAC use in frigid temperatures causes substantial drop in electric vehicle range

ORLANDO, Fla. (Feb. 7, 2019) – As freezing temperatures plague much of the country, electric vehicle owners may experience a decrease in driving range, compounded by the use of the vehicle’s interior climate control. New research from AAA reveals that when the mercury dips to 20°F and the HVAC system is used to heat the inside of the vehicle, the average driving range is decreased by 41 percent. This means for every 100 miles of combined urban/highway driving, the range at 20°F would be reduced to 59 miles. When colder temperatures hit, AAA urges electric vehicle owners to be aware of a reduction in range and the need to charge more often to minimize the chance of being stranded by a dead battery.

Additional Resources

“The appeal of electric vehicles continues to grow since a greater variety of designs and options with increased range have come onto the market,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “As long as drivers understand that there are limitations when operating electric vehicles in more extreme climates, they are less likely to be caught off guard by an unexpected drop in driving range.”

Cold weather, however, is not the only factor that can influence driving range. AAA’s research also found that when outside temperatures heat up to 95°F and air-conditioning is used inside the vehicle, driving range decreases by 17 percent. Extreme temperatures certainly play a role in diminishing driving range, but the use of HVAC in these conditions – particularly the heat – has by far the greatest effect. Additionally, an electric vehicle with a compromised driving range will require charging more often, which increases the cost to operate the vehicle. For instance, AAA’s study found that the use of heat when it’s 20°F outside adds almost $25 more for every 1,000 miles when compared to the cost of combined urban and highway driving at 75°F.

AAA tested five electric vehicles, all with a minimum EPA estimated driving range of 100 miles, in partnership with the Automotive Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center. Real-world driving conditions were simulated using a dynamometer, essentially a treadmill for cars, in a closed testing cell where ambient temperature could be closely controlled. To determine the effects on driving range, scenarios for cold and hot weather conditions – both when using HVAC and not – were compared to those of driving with an outside temperature of 75°F.

“The research clearly shows that electric vehicles thrive in more moderate climates, except the reality is most Americans live in an area where temperature fluctuates,” said Megan McKernan, manager of Automotive Research Center. “Automakers are continually making advances to improve range, but with this information, drivers will be more aware of the impacts varying weather conditions can have on their electric vehicles.”

Previous AAA research has found that interest in electric vehicles continues to gain momentum with 20 percent of drivers saying they would likely go green when considering their next vehicle purchase. With lower-than-average ownership costs, increased driving ranges and the latest advanced safety features, AAA believes there is a strong future for electric vehicles. To help “green” car shoppers make an informed choice, AAA conducts independent, rigorous test-track evaluations of plug-in hybrids, hybrid and fuel-efficient, gas-powered vehicles and releases the results every spring in its annual Green Car Guide.

There are some precautions electric vehicle owners can take during colder and hotter times of year to help offset potential reductions in driving range. AAA recommends drivers:

  • Plan ahead. When drivers are aware of the weather conditions before heading out, they can plan for more frequent stops for charging as well as identify the location of charging stations. Drivers can access these locations through AAA’s Mobile app or TripTik Planner.
  • Make time to “pre-heat” or cool down the inside of the vehicle while still connected to the charger. This will reduce the demand on the vehicle’s battery to regulate cabin temperature at the onset of driving.
  • If possible, park the vehicle in a garage to help stabilize cabin temperature.

While electric vehicle range performs best in areas with warm weather year-round such as Florida, Hawaii and California, drivers in other parts of the country shouldn’t be discouraged. Owning an electric vehicle in these regions just requires some additional planning.

Methodology

AAA conducted primary research in partnership with the Automotive Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center (ARC) in Los Angeles, California to understand impacts of ambient temperature on electric vehicle driving range with and without the use of the HVAC system. The vehicles were tested using the ARC’s climate controlled test cell and state of the art chassis dynamometer and data logging equipment.

Test vehicles were selected using a pre-determined set of criteria such as availability for sale throughout the United States with a minimum EPA estimated driving range of 100 miles. One vehicle per manufacturer was tested to prevent overrepresentation of a single brand. Additional information on methodology can be found in the full 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.

AAA Recommends Common Naming for ADAS Technology

January 25th, 2019 by AAA Public Affairs


Some Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) have been available for nearly 30 years, however, they have only become more commonplace in the last several years, like automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assistance. Since these features now come standard on many new vehicles, it is becoming increasingly important for consumers to have a solid understanding of their functionality. However, with the current variety of marketing names and lack of consensus by industry regulatory groups, it has been difficult for consumers to discern what features a vehicle has and how they actually work.

Additional Resources

AAA set out to understand the growing prevalence of ADAS technology in new vehicles as well as examine the terminology currently used by regulatory organizations and manufacturers. Previous AAA research found that 40 percent of Americans expect partially automated driving systems with names like Autopilot, ProPILOT or Pilot Assist, to have the ability to drive the car by itself. This research highlights the need for standardization of terms and definitions for ADAS features.

Key Findings

Cost/Prevalence of ADAS Technology
  • AAA examined 2018 model year vehicles to identify the percentage of ADAS technology that comes standard and found the following three features are the most prevalent:

o   Automatic Emergency Braking – 30.6%

o   Lane Keeping Assistance – 13.9%

o   Adaptive Cruise Control – 11.8%

  • Multiple ADAS features are often sold as part of an optional technology bundle. On average, the cost of an ADAS bundle is approximately $1,950.
  • At least one ADAS feature is available in 92.7 percent of new vehicle models available in the United States as of May 2018.
Terminology Review

AAA’s Automotive Engineering team examined 34 vehicle brands sold in the United States to identify the number of unique names manufacturers use to market ADAS. AAA found the following regarding the number of terms used to describe a single ADAS feature:

ADAS Feature
Number of Unique Names
Automatic Emergency Braking 40
Adaptive Cruise Control 20
Surround View Camera 20
Lane Keeping Assistance 19
Blind Spot Warning 19
Automatic High Beams 18
Rear Cross Traffic Warning 15
Driver Monitoring 13
Semi-Automated Parking Assist 12
Forward Collision Warning 8
Night Vision and Pedestrian Detection 5

 

AAA Proposed Terminology for ADAS

AAA is proposing terminology that is intended to be simple, specific and based on system functionality.

AUTOMATED DRIVING TASKS
DEFINITION
Adaptive Cruise Control Controls acceleration and/or braking to maintain a prescribed distance between it and a vehicle in front. May be able to come to a stop and continue.
Dynamic Driving Assistance Controls vehicle acceleration, braking, and steering. SAE standard definition of L2 Autonomous systems outlines this functionality.
Lane Keeping Assistance Controls steering to maintain vehicle within driving lane. May prevent vehicle from departing lane or continually center vehicle.
COLLISION ALERTS
DEFINITION
Blind Spot Warning Detects vehicles to rear in adjacent lanes while driving and alerts driver to their presence.
Forward Collision Warning Detects impending collision while traveling forward and alerts driver.
Lane Departure Warning Monitors vehicle’s position within driving lane and alerts driver as the vehicle approaches or crosses lane markers.
Parking Obstruction Warning Detects obstructions in close proximity to vehicle during parking maneuvers.
Pedestrian Detection Detects pedestrians in front of vehicle and alerts driver to their presence.
Rear Cross Traffic Warning Detects vehicles approaching from side and rear of vehicles while traveling in reverse and alerts driver.
COLLISION MITIGATION
DEFINITION
Automatic Emergency Steering Detects potential collision and automatically controls steering to avoid or lessen the severity of impact.
Forward Automatic Emergency Braking Detects potential collisions while traveling forward and automatically applies brakes to avoid or lessen the severity of impact.
Reverse Automatic Emergency Braking Detects potential collision while traveling in reverse and automatically applies brakes to avoid or lessen the severity of impact.
PARKING ASSISTANCE
DEFINITION
Fully-automated Parking Assistance Controls acceleration, braking, steering, and shifting during parking. May be capable of parallel and / or perpendicular parking.
Remote Parking System parks vehicle without driver being physically present inside the vehicle. Automatically controls acceleration, braking, steering, and shifting.
Semi-automated Parking Assistance Controls steering during parking. Driver responsible for acceleration, braking, and gear position. May be capable of parallel and/or perpendicular parking.
Surround View Camera Uses cameras located around vehicle to present view of surroundings.
Trailer Assistance System that assists driver during backing maneuvers with a trailer attached.
MISC. DRIVING AIDS
DEFINITION
Automatic High Beams Deactivates or orients headlamp beams automatically based on lighting, surroundings, and traffic.
Driver Monitoring Monitors driver condition by various means to detect drowsiness or lack of attention.
Night Vision A system that aids driver vision at night by projecting enhanced images on instrument cluster or heads-up display.
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AAA Illuminates the Dangers of Driving with Cloudy Headlights

December 11th, 2018 by AAA Public Affairs

ORLANDO, Fla. (Dec. 11, 2018) – New research from AAA reveals that clouded or yellowed headlights generate only 20 percent of the amount of light that new headlights do, leading to dangerous nighttime driving conditions. This decrease is caused by sunlight damage to protective plastic coatings, resulting in discoloration that considerably diminishes the headlight’s ability to provide adequate light on dark roadways. With 50 percent of crashes occurring at night, AAA urges drivers to check their headlights for signs of deterioration and invest in new headlights or, at a minimum, a low-cost service to boost the safety of driving after dark.

Additional Resources

“Walk through any parking lot and it is evident that deteriorated headlights are a problem for most vehicle owners,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “Headlights on the road in the U.S., even when new, don’t produce a sufficient amount of lighting, so any reduction in performance is a real safety issue.”

AAA examined the impact deterioration can have on the amount of light produced by conducting research using an accredited laboratory to test headlights from two popular sedans, approximately 11 years in age. Results from the degraded headlights were measured against new headlights to quantify the amount of light produced for each. All testing was done in accordance with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108 as set forth by the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Research revealed that deteriorated headlights, when used on low beam, provided just 22 percent of the amount of light a new headlight does when operating at full capacity. AAA also examined the effects that replacing or restoring a headlight can have on improving the amount of light produced. Replacing  headlights with original equipment manufacturer parts is the most effective method to restore light output back to 100 percent.

Aftermarket parts also performed well, restoring light output between 83 and 90 percent, however these did fail to meet certain requirements for light intensity and were found to be more likely to produce glare for oncoming traffic. Restoring headlights, while the most cost effective option, offered less of an improvement in light output than replacement. Professional and DIY restoration returned light output back to approximately 70 percent. Both restoration methods, however, produced more glare than is acceptable according DOT criteria. 

Compounding the problem of driving with deteriorated headlights is the fact that U.S. headlights have significant shortcomings. Previous AAA research found that halogen headlights fail to safely illuminate unlit roadways at speeds as low as 40 mph, with high beam settings offering only marginal improvements. Even the most advanced headlights tested illuminated just 40 percent of the sight distances that the full light of day provides. By not maintaining headlights, drivers are unknowingly operating in dangerously dim conditions.

“Driving at night with headlights that produce only 20 percent of the light they did when new, which is already subpar, is a risk drivers shouldn’t take,” continued Brannon. “Especially when there are convenient and inexpensive solutions that can dramatically improve lighting performance.”

Most headlights are made of plastic and exposure to sunlight breaks down the plastic coating, causing discoloration that obscures the amount of light produced. Depending on where and how the vehicle is used, headlights can begin showing signs of deterioration as early as three years to five years.

Unlike batteries or tires, most drivers are not in the habit of routinely inspecting their headlights. AAA suggests drivers check their headlights for changes in appearance such as yellowing or clouding and if the bulb is difficult to see, it is time to have the lenses replaced or restored as soon as possible. AAA recommends replacement since this method offers the most improvement in the amount of light produced. Both replacement and restoration services are provided by many repair shops including many AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities.

Methodology

Headlight assemblies used in testing were for the left (driver’s) side of the vehicle. To quantify headlight performance, AAA contracted an accredited testing laboratory with expertise in automotive headlights and conducted testing according to industry standards. Headlights were tested according to FMVSS-108 standards with no modifications to the headlight assemblies under test or to the test procedures.

The professional headlight restoration systems used a power sanding technique to remove the original protective film from the headlight lens. The resulting scratched surface of the polycarbonate was then polished using increasingly finer grades of sanding discs and a protectant film applied to the entire surface of the headlight lens. Full methodology available in the research report found here.

About AAA

AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 35 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.

ORLANDO, Fla. (Nov. 14, 2018) – A new survey from AAA finds that 40 percent of Americans expect driver support systems, with names like Autopilot, ProPILOT or Pilot Assist, to have the ability to drive the car by itself, indicating a gap in consumer understanding of these technologies and reality. AAA also tested these systems and found that they are in fact not designed to take over the task of driving and can be significantly challenged by every day, real-world conditions such as poor lane markings, unusual traffic patterns and stationary vehicles. As this type of technology becomes more commonplace on the road, AAA cautions consumers not to take vehicle system names at face value and, although meant to assist in the driving task, should never be used as a replacement for driver engagement.

Additional Resources

“With today’s exciting advances in vehicle technology, there is a greater need for naming that clearly signals to a driver what the system does,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “Vague or confusing terminology may lead someone to overestimate a system’s capability, unintentionally placing the driver and others on the road at risk.”

In partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, AAA tested four vehicles equipped with systems that combine technologies such as adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist to help maintain lane position, forward speed and following distance in relation to a lead vehicle. Closed-course and on-road testing evaluated performance in typical driving situations where the technology generally behaved as expected. However, there were a number of instances in both environments that caused these systems to act in an unpredictable manner, requiring driver intervention to avoid a potential collision.

While driving on public roadways, AAA found test vehicles struggled when encountering scenarios that included moderate traffic, curved roadways and streets with busy intersections. Researchers noted many instances where the test vehicle experienced issues like lane departures, hugging lane markers, “ping-ponging” within the lane, inadequate braking, unexpected speed changes and inappropriate following distances. AAA’s study also revealed that nearly 90 percent of events requiring driver intervention were due to the test vehicle’s inability to maintain lane position. The irregular and complex nature of the real-world driving environment revealed the vulnerabilities of this technology. AAA’s testing found the systems generally performed best on open freeways and freeways with stop and go traffic.

During closed-course testing, common driving situations were simulated such as staying within the lane at 45 mph, following a distracted or impaired driver, encountering a commercial vehicle, for example, a tow truck, or contending with a vehicle that suddenly changed lanes to reveal a stationary vehicle. All test vehicles were able to successfully maintain lane position as well as recognize and react to the presence of the tow truck with little to no difficulty. However, in the scenario where a lead vehicle changed lanes to reveal a stationary one, three out of the four test vehicles required driver intervention to avoid an imminent crash. In general, this scenario is a stated limitation of these systems, however, it is a relatively common occurrence on roadways and could take those drivers by surprise who have become too reliant on the technology.

“Both real-world and closed-course testing exposed separate yet equally serious limitations with these systems,” said Brannon. “It reinforces that there is still much work to be done to educate consumers on the nuances between system names and functionality and that it is much too early to refer to these vehicle technologies as automated.”

In order to reduce the misuse of driver support vehicle systems, AAA encourages drivers to educate themselves by requesting a demonstration at the dealership as well as thoroughly reading the vehicle owner’s manual. As this technology becomes more prevalent, standardized naming across vehicles that clearly reflects how technology functions will be necessary. Greater consistency across the industry will help consumers understand the type of technology their vehicle has along with how, when and where to use these systems.

To assess the capabilities of driver support vehicle 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 Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California and was rented by AAA for independent testing. Public highway evaluation was conducted on surface streets, highways and limited-access freeways throughout the greater Los Angeles area.

Four test vehicles were selected (2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class, 2018 Nissan Rogue, 2017 Tesla Model S and 2019 Volvo XC40) using specific criteria and each test vehicle was outfitted using industry‐standard instrumentation, sensors and cameras to capture vehicle dynamics, position data and braking intervention. Complete methodology can be found in the full research report at newsroom.aaa.com.

The consumer survey was conducted October 4–7, 2018, using two probability samples: randomly selected landline telephone and mobile (cell) phone numbers. The combined sample consisted of 1,003 adults (18 years old and older) living in the continental U.S. The margin of error for the study is 4% at the 95% confidence level. Smaller subgroups will have larger error margins.

AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 35 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.

AAA finds safety systems can add an extra $3,000 in repair costs

ORLANDO, Fla. (Oct. 25, 2018) – According to new research from AAA, vehicles equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) such as automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and others, can cost twice as much to repair following a collision due to expensive sensors and their calibration requirements. Even minor incidents that cause damage to this technology found behind windshields, bumpers and door mirrors can add up to $3,000 in extra repair costs. With one-in-three Americans unable to afford an unexpected repair bill of just $500, AAA strongly urges consumers to perform an insurance policy review and consider the potential repair costs of these advanced systems.

Additional Resources

“Advanced safety systems are much more common today, with many coming as standard equipment, even on base models,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “It’s critical that drivers understand what technology their vehicle has, how it performs and how much it could cost to repair should something happen.”

Previous AAA testing has shown that ADAS offers many safety benefits, however, minor vehicle damage that affects these systems may be inevitable. For the vehicles in AAA’s study, the repair bill for a minor front or rear collision on a car with ADAS can run as high as $5,300, almost two and half times the repair cost for a vehicle without these systems.

Windshield damage is especially common, with more than 14.5 million replacements annually. Many safety systems rely on cameras positioned behind the windshield that require recalibration when the glass is replaced. In addition, some automakers require the use of factory glass that meets strict standards for optical clarity. Replacing a windshield on a vehicle equipped with a camera behind the glass typically costs approximately $1,500, which can be as much as three times the amount to replace the windshield on a car without the technology.

“It is not unusual for windshields to get chipped or cracked, especially for drivers who commute on a daily basis,” continued Nielsen. “This may be an eyesore on a regular car, but when it falls in the line of sight of a camera or the driver, it becomes a safety issue that needs immediate attention by a facility qualified to work on these systems.”

Windshields are not the only area vulnerable to damage that could result in a costly repair or replacement. Vehicles with ADAS may also have radar, camera and ultrasonic sensors located in or behind the front and rear bumpers or bodywork, as well as built into the side mirrors. While most drivers may never find themselves in a collision, these parts can easily be damaged when pulling out of a garage, hitting a mailbox or bumping into other objects.

Many variables such as the vehicle make and model, the type and location of the sensor and where the work is performed can affect ADAS repair costs. AAA’s research determined the ranges listed below for typical ADAS repair expenses. Note that these numbers are for costs over and above the normal bodywork required following a collision.

  • Front radar sensors used with automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control systems: $900 to $1,300
  • Rear radar sensors used with blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert systems: $850 to $2,050
  • Front camera sensors used with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and lane keeping systems (does not include the cost of a replacement windshield): $850 to $1,900
  • Front, side mirror or rear camera sensors used with around-view systems: $500 to $1,100
  • Front or rear ultrasonic sensors used with parking assist systems: $500 to $1,300

Once a driver finds that an ADAS has been damaged and requires repair, there are key factors to consider when selecting a repair facility. Simply replacing the sensors of driver assistance systems is relatively straightforward and can be performed by most mechanics. However, to restore the system to proper operation it must be calibrated, which requires special training, tools and information. Before having a vehicle repaired, AAA recommends that drivers verify whether the facility is able to properly repair and calibrate the damaged system(s), and request proof of the work once complete.

As technology continues to evolve, drivers need to be better educated and more aware of their vehicle’s capabilities. This includes understanding how the vehicle systems work as well as how much repairs may cost if damaged. AAA recommends drivers review their insurance policy regularly to ensure they have the appropriate coverage to cover the cost of repairs for any damage and that deductibles are manageable to minimize out-of-pocket expenses.

For this study, AAA evaluated three top-selling models in popular categories. The vehicle models were selected from AAA’s 2018 Your Driving Costs study and include a small sport utility vehicle, a medium sedan and a full-size pickup truck. To establish repair part types and costs, all replacement parts discussed are original equipment manufacturer (OEM) components charged at their suggested list prices. To establish mechanical labor costs, a national average customer-pay rate was determined based on data from National Auto Body Research as well as AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and rounded to the nearest whole dollar amount. Labor rates used do not include state or local taxes, shop supplies fees or hazardous materials disposal charges. To establish repair times, data was obtained from CCC Estimating (Certified Collateral Corporation), Mitchell1 ProDemand, Safelite, Inc. and Nissan, Ford and Toyota dealer repair facilities. Full methodology is available at newsroom.aaa.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 59 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. 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. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

AAA: New Cars Lose $3,000 Annually from this Single Expense

September 13th, 2018 by AAA Public Affairs

Drivers should keep resale value top of mind when buying a new vehicle

ORLANDO, Fla. (Sep. 13, 2018) – AAA’s 2018 Your Driving Costs study reveals the largest expense associated with purchasing a new car is something many drivers fail to consider – depreciation. In fact, it accounts for almost 40 percent of the cost of owning a new vehicle – more than $3,000 per year – and is influenced by a number of factors, including shifting consumer preferences. AAA urges car buyers to think about both market trends and length of ownership when shopping for their next vehicle purchase. 

“New vehicles offer the latest designs, cutting-edge technologies and warranties that offer peace of mind,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “But, car owners that like to change vehicles frequently should be thinking about the resale value – not just the purchase price – when choosing their next ride.”

Additional Resources

AAA’s annual analysis found demand for sedans has slipped as American appetite shifts to SUVs and pickup trucks. As a result, depreciation costs of these once-popular vehicles increased up to 13 percent as compared to last year. Electric and hybrid vehicles, however, have seen a gain in popularity with 20 percent of Americans saying they will likely go electric for their next vehicle purchase, up from 15 percent the previous year. This year, these vehicles also saw a dip in depreciation and offer many cost benefits such as lower repair and maintenance bills, making going green a more affordable choice than in years past.

Buyers often only give priority to purchase price and monthly payment when choosing a new car, sometimes selecting a vehicle based on the best deal available. The length of car ownership, however, is of equal importance. Consumers who plan to keep a vehicle for only a few years should be cautious of deep discounts and incentives offered by automakers and dealers. These are often designed to sell less popular models and directly influence depreciation. Low down payments and extended finance terms can also have a similar effect. Stretching a car loan over five, six or even seven years may be an effective way to lower payments, but owners may quickly find themselves owing more than the vehicle is worth.

Leasing is similarly affected since payments are based in part on the projected residual value of the car at the end of the lease, serving as a good indicator of which models experience higher or lower depreciation. Since resale value is not a factor at the end of the lease period, buyers who prefer less popular models or only want a vehicle for a short time, may consider leasing a more viable option.

“The secret to minimizing depreciation costs?” continued Nielsen. “Keep your car for a long time and keep it well-maintained or even consider buying a quality, pre-owned vehicle.”

AAA’s Your Driving Costs found the average cost to own and operate a new vehicle in 2018 is $8,849 per year. The figure is calculated based on the cost of fuel, maintenance, repairs, insurance, license/registration/taxes, depreciation and loan interest. The study examined 45 top-selling 2018 model-year vehicles across the following nine categories.

Vehicle Type Annual Cost*
Small Sedan $6,777
Hybrid $7,485
Small SUV $7,869
Electric Vehicle $8,384
Medium Sedan $8,866
Minivan $9,677
Medium SUV $9,697
Large Sedan $9,804
Pickup Truck $10,215
Average $8,849

*Based on 15,000 miles driven annually

While the latest technology, style and options make them attractive to car buyers, a new car may not be the most economical choice for some buyers. Vehicle owners looking for alternatives to new car ownership or ways to minimize their operating costs should consider the following:

  • Buy (gently) used – By driving a pre-owned vehicle in good condition, ownership costs are significantly lower. A safe, reliable vehicle can be found at an attractive price point.
  • Fuel responsibly – Avoid wasting money on premium grade gasoline unless your vehicle specifically requires it and, if you’re one of the 20 percent of Americans considering an electric car, these vehicles offer lower fuel and maintenance costs.
  • Show your car some love – It sounds counterintuitive, but spending money on routine maintenance can actually save you money in the end. To keep engines running cleaner and longer, consider switching to synthetic oil and upgrading to a higher quality fuel TOP TIER™ gasoline.
  • Slow down – When gas prices are high, small changes in the way you drive can make a big difference.

AAA’s Your Driving Costs study employs a proprietary methodology to analyze the costs of owning and operating a new vehicle in the United States, using data from a variety of sources, including Vincentric LLC. Additional information and detailed driving costs, including those for fuel, maintenance, repairs, insurance, license/registration/taxes, depreciation and finance charges can be found at NewsRoom.AAA.com or AAA.com/YourDrivingCosts.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 59 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. 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. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

 

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