By on June 26, 2019

A survey released by Consumer Reports this week indicated that a majority of motorists (57 percent) believed that the advanced driving aids their vehicles had actively helped them avoid a crash. The survey, which incorporated data on roughly 72,000 vehicles from the 2015-19 model years, asked drivers to weigh in on a multitude of safety systems — including forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind spot alerts, and more. While not all of these features had majority support, tabulating them as a whole showed at least half of the people using advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) saw some value in them.

Our opinions on these systems have been thoroughly mixed. While we’ve found most advanced driving aids to be inconsistent in their operation, sometimes befuddled by fog or a vehicle encrusted with roadway grime, we’ll happily admit that adaptive cruise control offers more utility than the standard on/off inclusions of yesteryear. But we’ve also seen disheartening reports that semi-autonomous features dull a good driver’s senses to a point that effectively makes them a worse motorist and would be lying if we said we trusted any of these systems implicitly. 

However, the fact remains that they could save lives — especially in moments where a driver is not being their best self on the road or find themselves caught completely off guard. That’s basically the position Consumer Reports is taking and it seems to have made up its mind about how pervasive ADAS should be within the auto industry.

“Cars can do so much today to keep their drivers and passengers safe, and we want to push the industry to make these systems commonplace for all drivers,” said Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing for Consumer Reports. “Our survey results show that in the real world, these systems are creating positive outcomes in situations that only a few short years ago would have ended in costly and tragic results.”

While compelling, a lot of CR’s backing for its clams were anecdotal. Even the survey results hinged on respondents feeling that the car did something a human could not. That doesn’t necessarily make them wrong, but it isn’t the same as having definitive proof. Fortunately, CR incorporated some data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) on forward collision warning (FWC), automatic emergency braking (AEB), and blind spot warnings (BSW) to help strengthen its position.

From CR:

IIHS data shows that vehicles equipped with FCW and AEB have 50 percent fewer front-to-rear crashes compared with cars without the systems.

Cars equipped with rear automatic braking, along with rearview cameras and parking sensors, had 78 percent fewer crashes compared with cars without those three systems, says David Aylor, IIHS manager of active safety testing.

Given the rate of growth for AEB in cars sold in the U.S., some 28,000 crashes and 12,000 injuries could be prevented by 2025, the IIHS says.

Of survey respondents participating in Consumer Reports’ study, 47 percent claimed forward collision warning and/or automatic emergency helped to prevent a crash. Meanwhile, 60 percent said the same for blind spot warnings, 31 percent felt lane departure warnings were helpful, and 52 percent dug rear cross traffic alerts/braking.

However, with just 19 percent of the public’s support, adaptive cruise control was the outlier. CR said this wasn’t as big of an issue because cruise control is a “convenience feature and not a safety feature.” But we’re inclined to disagree. Modern versions of adaptive cruise control frequently work in tandem with other driver assistance systems and can help people avoid tailgating — which is as dangerous as it is obnoxious.

In general, CR’s take echoes what the American Automobile Association said last October. However, the AAA study also noted that most surveyed drivers didn’t understand the technology in the slightest with some being unaware that their ride even possessed such features.

If you’re interested in more information or want to peruse some of the relevant anecdotes, we encourage you to check out the CR survey results for yourself. We’d also love to hear your opinions on the matter in the comments.


[Image: Toyota]

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22 Comments on “Survey Suggests Most Motorists Dig Advanced Driving Aids...”

  • avatar

    Fisher’s quotes confirm the inclinations that I felt CR possessed. I will continue to avoid taking CR’s advice.

    I love the freedom and driving engagement that comes with being a statistical outlier.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve subscribed to CR for more than 30 years. CR is just ONE factor in MY decision-making process.

      But I don’t care much for the advanced driving aids either. Had a SERIOUS NAV setup in my wife’s 2016 Sequoia. Never used it! Relied on my old portable Garmin 42LM instead. Had Sirius Radio as well. Never used the Satellite part of the radio either. Instead, we streamed/Bluetooth’ed whatever content we wanted to listen to over her phone.

      • 0 avatar

        My S.O. and I were house-hunting recently, and my car’s built-in nav came in VERY handy – so much so that she even commented on how nice it was. Pretty remarkable coming from her – she absolutely detests new tech (example: she only switched to a smartphone after AT&T literally refused to keep providing service for her old flip phone).

        Sirius comes in REAL handy on desolate stretches of I-70 in Kansas. The trick is to wait until it’s cancelled, at which point they keep on dropping the subscription price until you re-activate. I’m getting it for something like four bucks a month now.

        • 0 avatar

          FreedMike, I’ve driven on the lonely stretches of I-70 and the Turnpike. I always made it a priority to stop at Dunkin’ Donuts and the Rest Stops in the Median. Lots of fond memories there.

          Bavarian creme-filled chocolate-covered Long Johns. Like an Eclaire, only better.

          We got Sirius free for one year when the Sequoia was bought new. Sirius offered us a subscription for the next year for almost $300. What were they thinking?

          Anyway, that forced me to record the “50s on 5” programming my wife likes onto DVDs using one of my HDD video recorders and Dishnetwork (chan 6005).

          Nice thing about that is, we’ll always have those DVDs, and in some cases I reduced them to mp3 format for portability.

          In most cases I play them on a portable DVD player, plugged into the radio of a vehicle, using a 3.5mm plug from the Headset jack.

          Works good for us. And sometimes we do streaming or Bluetooth from her phone if the vehicle is so equipped. And many rentals today have Bluetooth, but I never program her phone into those.

  • avatar

    I drive a ’15 Honda Accord Sport whose driving aids consist of a steering wheel and brakes. Works for me.

  • avatar

    “A survey released by Consumer Reports”

    Hahahahahahaha… NO!

    Geez, whenever there’s an unpopular opinion (Wrangler’s the worst “car”, no kidding it’s not a car) poll you can bet CR is behind it

    Ok, come at me :(

  • avatar

    I’ve seen two a___hats intentionally repeatedly accelerate into cars ahead of them (triggering the braking intervention) so that they could play w/their car’s auto-braking feature.

    • 0 avatar

      Wanna bet I can find more problems CAUSED by the auto-braking feature then solved by it? How many days has it been since someone’s auto-pilot killed someone?

  • avatar

    OK, showing my age here. I like the fact that I get another view of the douchebags that walk mindlessly behind my car when I’m trying to back out of the grocery store parking lot after turning my head left and right. I like the fact that if I slightly meander close to a lane marker I am reminded so that my ticket-writing friendly local cops aren’t as likely to pull me over and write me a ticket. I like the adoptive cruise on a long interstate run. I like that the brakes will keep me out of someone’s rear end.

    I also like that I can just get in my car and push a button without fussing with keys, and I like the remote start function, and I like the Apple CarPlay with the new law in my state that says I can’t answer a phone (but I can get past that one with my watch), and while none of these would be considered safety options, they still make the operation of a car easier for me.

    So get off of my lawn! (sarcasm)

    • 0 avatar

      I’m in agreement with you CJ.
      I finally have a car with the full-suite of driving aids and I like almost all of them.
      Adaptive Cruise Control – is my absolute favorite. While not optimal for every situation, it serves me best on long road trips in moderate traffic.
      Lane Keep Assist – While sometimes annoying, it actually makes me a better driver because I use my turn signal more often while changing lanes so I don’t feel the annoying tug on the steering wheel.
      Automatic Emergency Braking – I’ve never had it engage but the buzz in my seat and the flash on my head-up display has alerted me to brake (or brake harder) before it needed to engage. Also it a lot less sensitive than on previous 2013 Volt I had.
      Rear Camera and Cross Traffic Alerts – Being able to judge where you back end of your car is really helps. The Cross Traffic Alert has helped me while backing out of spaces more than as few times.
      Park Assist – The only “feature” I don’t regularly use. I find it gimmicky and non-intuitive.

      I’m really happy with the push-button start. The main reason is that both of my cars finally have it. I would invariably not pull out my keys for the car that needed them and reach for my keys when I neared the car that didn’t.

    • 0 avatar

      How old are you? I hope you are in your 70’s or 80’s.

      I have all of the driving aids switched off or at least minimalized. It’s actually dangerous. Sensors can only see what’s in the immediate area which isn’t as nearly good as me keeping an eye on what’s way ahead and way behind.

      I honestly can’t remember the last time I got close to hitting someone from behind. I do remember the last time I increased my braking distance to accomodate the idiot that was about to rear-end me and it would have royally pissed me off if I did get hit because and emergency braking system kicked in.

      Relying on adaptive cruise control is lazy. Driving for hours out on the interstate already dulls ones’ senses. But ya, I get it. You’ll be one of the first to jump at an autonomous car. Seems like you are a perfect candidate for mass transit, Amazon Prime, and Safeway home delivery. No need to even go past your front lawn.

  • avatar

    What, pray tell, is rear automatic braking?

    I’ll admit the blind spot monitoring with cross traffic alert has been helpful a couple times, but it usually only activates when I’ve already seen the bit it’s alerting me to. Also, it’s so sensitive it’ll shout at me when some is driving down the street in front of my driveway – which is at the end of a T.

    The safety feature I’d like is a trunk mounted rocket launcher to take the tailgaters out, especially when I’m driving the speed limit, in the right lane, with plenty of space all around.

  • avatar

    I’ve been generally opposed to most of these ‘driving aids’ but I’ve come to accept some of them, at least in how I use them. I like blind spot monitoring but I don’t rely on it. I’m careful about staying aware of what’s going on around me and also checking carefully before making a lane change. And signaling so anyone near me knows what I’m up to.

    One other aid I like, though I have it disabled on my car, is lane departure warning. I had a rented Edge last week and at one point I came across a construction zone where traffic was being funneled across into the oncoming lane (with flaggers controlling the flow). I had no need to signal that as it was the required flow but it triggered as I went across the yellow line on the road. The reason I hadn’t noticed it before is because it doesn’t activate if you signal a lane change – that ‘explains’ to the system that you will be departing a lane intentionally. So the reason I like lane departure warnings? Maybe, just maybe, it will encourage more drivers to signal lane changes.

    Yeah… I’m probably just dreaming…

    • 0 avatar

      Where I live many of the hwys have a ridged centerline which gives you a vibration should you wander out of your lane, works really well, I wish more hwys had it

  • avatar

    “Survey Suggests”

    I typically stop there.

    If you said “Scientifically Accredited and Peer Reviewed Analysis Concludes”, it’d mean a little bit more.

  • avatar

    The only aid that I’ve found I actually like is the Blind Spot monitor (or specifically the cross-traffic-alert when reversing.

    Mainly I think because I can’t see when backing out of a parking spot because my small car is surrounded by monster trucks and crossovers so I just inch out. A few beeps is handy.

    The rest are trash. Radar cruise is SOMETIMES handy on a busy 2 lane when the people in front of you can’t hold the speed limit. All other times it brakes too early, people cut in front of you, someone is turning and it goes crazy. Trash.

    Auto braking, goes off only when people are making a right turn in front of you, slamming the brakes and going crazy. Trash.

    Navigation systems and integrated tech? Trash if you have a smart phone.

    What else?

    Oh, lane keep assist…. the WORST of all of them. Make a turn and the wheel is fighting against your wishes! Then cross the line and BEEEEEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP. Trash.

    Reverse cameras. Trash. Just give me some proximity beepers. Why do I look toward the front of the car at the screen while I’m reversing?!

    These MIGHT be good if you’re a terrible driver. But i’d suggest getting better than relying on tech.

    I still remember a girl in college. Thoroughly poor driver. Got a car that had the reverse proximity sensors on it. Told her I thought that was pretty handy when reversing…and she replied (100% serious) that she loved them because she didn’t even have to turn around when she was backing up anymore.

    People don’t see these as helpers…they rely on them when they shouldn’t (Tesla auto-pilot anyone?).

    I used to like stuff on cars about 15-20 years ago. Because it was nice, and made driving nicer.

    But I find today I pretty much just want the same things I did 20 years ago. Nice interior, upgrade stereo, a sunroof, maybe cooling and heated seats and I’m good. The rest of this all stays off except for that unobtrusive blind spot monitoring. but you know what? I don’t even really need that either. Adjust your mirrors correctly (side mirrors pick up where the rearview mirror view ends) and you basically have no blind spot.

    • 0 avatar

      If you used your blinkers like an educated driver, the LKA wouldn’t be beeping at you. You also can just stay in your lane as well.

      Yet you praise the BSM, ha. Ironic. Easily the worst aid of all. I am thrilled you can turn it off with a single button in many cars.

  • avatar

    This just reenforces my cynicism about drivers in general. They are involved, harebrained, and uncaring about the task of driving, and will gladly offload the mental attention required as much as they can. If self driving vehicles are perfected, they will be a smashing sales success, I fear.

  • avatar

    My anecdotal experience is that safety systems are making drivers lazier. Most people in So Cal. DO NOT USE TURN SIGNALS. I mean ffs. If I don’t know what you’re going to do, that’s a big safety issue.

    And I’m the a-hole BMW driver? C’mon. Well ok, I am an a-hole, but at least I use my freaking turn signals.

    I do like back up cameras and I do like auto emergency braking as long as it’s calibrated correctly, but that’s about it.

  • avatar

    “While compelling, a lot of CR’s backing for its clams were anecdotal.”
    Why do you say this? Was CR being “crabby”? Or perhaps you were looking for a few more “pearls” of wisdom? Or how about just “fishing” for compliments.

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