Enthusiast Groups Unsure How to Best Handle Crash Avoidance Technology on Track Day

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
enthusiast groups unsure how to best handle crash avoidance technology on track day

For the most part, crash avoidance and driver assistance technology is a welcome addition addition to the automotive landscape. While they can be a little invasive sometimes, they’re usually doing what they’re supposed to and helping to save the lives of drivers who may have had a momentary lapse in judgment or focus. However, there is a lot of worry over how lane assistance or emergency braking software will behave when you bring a streetcar to the track.

Several chapters of the BMW Car Club of America and the Porsche Club of America have already decided to forbid any vehicle equipped with aids. The fear is that track day organizers or instructors could be found liable if a car suddenly jerks right when it approaches the apex of a corner or suddenly decelerate when in close proximity to other vehicles. A driver might be caught off-guard if a car unexpectedly takes over and be unsure how to mitigate inputs they were unprepared for.

The bottom line is that newer cars are finding themselves in danger of being banned wholesale, and that’s just not going to work if track days are to continue in the years to come.

The BMW Car Club seems to be aware of this. After the earlier ban, the Genesee Valley chapter in New York has revised its decision and now wants assist-equipped vehicles marked for an additional safety check that would ensure those systems have been deactivated. “Because [crash avoidance systems] become active automatically at vehicle startup, it will be incumbent upon drivers to ensure they manually shut down their systems before proceeding onto the track,” the chapter’s chief driving instructor explained in a letter to Jalopnik. “Instructors and pit-out marshals will verify that the systems are indeed shut down before allowing your car on track. Cars will be required to display a special sticker on the windshield if these systems are installed, so that pit marshals can easily identify them and verify that the systems have been shut down prior to release into pit lane.”

Of course, this is just one chapter. The BMWCCA’s overall stance is a little different and has been working with BMW of North America to address the issue. In an earlier discussion with Road & Track the automaker made it clear that, while driving aids can be disabled, “Most advanced driver aids like lane departure warning and blind spot detection do not affect the ability of the driver to control the car on-track at high speed. In addition the systems can be shut off so that they are also not a distraction to a student.”

Meanwhile, BMWCCA’s national driving events chairman Jack Joyner has suggested this is much ado about nothing. “As I understand it, these systems can be turned off, and that might be all we need,” he said. “If I have heard correctly, people were freaking out over ABS when it was introduced too. I would ask the newer car owners not to panic, as we will be having a call or two on this subject over the next few days.”

[Image: BMWCCA]

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  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Apr 24, 2017

    How can you run streetcars where there aren't any rails? /sorry, couldn't resist

  • Ricky Spanish Ricky Spanish on Apr 24, 2017

    This is a real problem. It's not just the car taking over. Pre-crash sensors will prime the brakes because they think the car is going to crash into a wall instead of turn at high speed. After about 5 minutes of "priming" the brake pad is shot and the brakes don't work. This is a big problem if you're driving a 500+ hp / 4,000 lb AMG or ///M down a straightaway.

  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Ed That has to be a joke.
  • SCE to AUX One data point: my rental '23 Model 3 had good build quality, but still not as good as my Hyundais.Test mule aside, perhaps the build quality of the CT will be good in 2027.