By on June 15, 2022

In 2021, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) asked manufacturers to begin reporting vehicle accidents where Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and/or semi-autonomous driving aids were engaged. The agency was specifically interested in incidents where such systems were active at least 30 seconds prior to the crash, hoping it might shed some light as to the technologies at play while the industry continues to make it standard equipment.

The resulting data hasn’t exactly made modern safety systems look all that effective, especially considering they were long touted by automakers, safety regulators, and politicians as a pathway toward totally eliminating roadway fatalities. Meanwhile, quadrants of the automotive industry have taken to the media to collectively bemoan that the study needs more context before any real conclusions about the tech should be made. That’s true of any study. However part of that context involves the efficacy of those research efforts and what the parties involved ultimately want you to believe.

Based on the information provided by the NHTSA, it cataloged 392 separate incidents between July 1st of last year through May 15th, 2022. This already throws up a few red flags, starting with the limited sample size. The study was launched as part of a general standing order that obligated companies to share crash information and also gave the NHTSA supreme authority to acquire the relevant data. While preliminary, the intention was to take a broad snapshot of where the relevant technologies had left us in terms of safety.

But that’s going to be hard to do with just 367 reports coming back for analysis and genuinely surprising considering that number accounts for vehicles equipped with SAE Level 2. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems of this type are fairly commonplace on today’s market and include features like lane-keeping with assist, automatic emergency braking, crash avoidance tech, and adaptive cruise control (provided at least two of those systems work collaboratively).

Sadly, the NHTSA summary shows that a sizable portion of the data came via 139 consumer complaints. The largest data pool came from manufacturers’ telematic data, accounting for 258 incidents, with the remaining information coming by way of a handful of reports from law enforcement, field analysis, or the media. The agency noted that this made things tricky when it came down to analysis, as some automakers may not use systems that were engaged 30 seconds prior to a crash or lack the kind of information gathering on Level 2 ADAS engagement and telemetry.

This appears to have done a real number on Tesla, which accounted for 273 SAE Level 2 crashes tabulated by the NHTSA — six of which were reportedly fatal. Honda came in second, with 90 incidents reported, while Subaru’s 10 crashes left it in third place. No other manufacturer managed to break double digits, leaving the summary showing Tesla as representing the overwhelming majority of ADAS-related wrecks. Could the American EV manufacturer really be that far behind the curve or are there other factors influencing the data?

Some reporting has suggested AutoPilot shuts off one second before impact – Ed.

The above could simply be down to Tesla offering an inferior product. While I do believe Tesla’s Autopilot is among the easiest systems to use, it’s difficult for me to believe it’s substantially safer than the competition after the business abandoned lidar and other sensing equipment. However, there is something about Tesla representing the overwhelming majority of reported crashes that just doesn’t feel right. Growth notwithstanding, the automaker still only managed to sell 301,900 automobiles last year — whereas brands like Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota, and Honda all easily surpassed 1 million.

This presumably means Tesla has been selling overpriced trash or it’s being massively overrepresented in the NHTSA study. While arguments can be made for both, the latter seems the larger issue considering how the brand does its data collection. Then there’s the proverbial elephant in the room most people don’t much like discussing.

Government agencies have long been weaponized for political purposes and I’ve begun to fear this now applies to the NHTSA to some degree. It’s no secret that Tesla has been butting heads with the Biden administration’s energy plan. Elon Musk has repeatedly criticized the president’s desire to continue subsidizing electric vehicles on the grounds that government involvement is making the market uncompetitive. The CEO has likewise opposed linking any new incentives to union labor. As a result, we’ve previously seen Tesla be disinvited from White House events pertaining to the United States’ electrification efforts and increased regulatory pressure directed its way since Biden took office. But the brand is also viewed as an upstart within the industry, one whose very existence has been forcing legacy manufacturers to play its game as Musk hoovers up market share and pokes holes into claims that EVs will automatically be better for the environment.

Long story short, there are plenty of people that would rather Tesla not exist and the company’s previous actions (some of which were genuinely egregious) have cheesed off regulators to a point that they might be inclined to intervene. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) already has a probe looking into the Autopilot and has yet to do the same for the systems being used by its rivals. My guess is that the unfavorable reporting was probably the result of how its own telematics played into the study and its status within the industry ensuring that nobody else minded. But that’s still incredibly speculative and the NHTSA did at least attempt to frame the study as preliminary and in need of some additional context.

From the NHTSA:

This new data is the first of its kind, and the reports detail several important caveats and limitations to this dataset for researchers, the press and the public to consider. For a clear understanding of the data, users should read about the data limitations and the sources that manufacturers and operators used to collect and report crashes.

For example, some reporting entities provide the agency with robust data more quickly because their vehicles are equipped with telematics capabilities. Telematics is the most frequently cited source for data collected currently by the Standing General Order. Manufacturers and operators also rely on consumer complaints to begin collecting data, which are the second-largest source for [SAE Level 2] ADAS, and field reports, the second-largest source for ADS. Further, these data are not normalized by the number of vehicles a manufacturer or developer has deployed or by vehicle miles traveled. That information is held by manufacturers and not currently reported to NHTSA. Thus, these data cannot be used to compare the safety of manufacturers against one another.

Some initial observations from the data show that since reporting requirements began, one crash reported for [a Level 3-5] ADS-equipped vehicle resulted in serious injuries, and 108 of the crashes resulted in no injuries. Of the 130 reported crashes for ADS-equipped vehicles, 108 involved collisions with another vehicle, and 11 involved a vulnerable road user, such as a pedestrian or cyclist.

“The data released today are part of our commitment to transparency, accountability and public safety,” said Dr. Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s Administrator. “New vehicle technologies have the potential to help prevent crashes, reduce crash severity and save lives, and the Department is interested in fostering technologies that are proven to do so; collecting this data is an important step in that effort. As we gather more data, NHTSA will be able to better identify any emerging risks or trends and learn more about how these technologies are performing in the real world.”

Honda, which also took it on the chin, suggested that the resulting data makes it hard for any real comparisons to be made. Speaking with Automotive News, Chris Martin, a spokesman for American Honda, urged caution when going over the crash data reported to NHTSA, “as apple-to-apple comparisons simply may not be possible at this time.”

“[The data is] based on unverified customer statements regarding the status of ADAS systems at the time of a reported crash. Since Honda relies on unverified customer claims to comply with NHTSA’s 24-hour reporting deadline, it is likely that some reported incidents would not have met NHTSA’s reporting criteria given more definitive data and time,” he added.

He has a point. Even the NHTSA said that some of the tabulated crashes could be repeats, noting that the included incident reports may also be incomplete or unverified. That’s a pretty low bar for a government study that’s assumed to lead to tangible regulatory actions. Meanwhile, we’ve had a few years of independent studies suggesting that at least a portion of advanced driving aids don’t function as claimed. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that the very nature of ADAS (and more elaborate driving assistance suites) effectively encourages motorists to become complacent to a degree that may make them less safe behind the wheel.

The NHTSA study is split into two relatively short summaries pertaining to crashes involving SAE Level 2 and the more advanced Level 3-5 that you’re welcome to read yourself. But neither paper seems to offer much in the way of hard data beyond the frequency in which certain brands were involved and what type of object ended up being struck by the cars in question — and even that’s been undermined by the agency’s own admission that there are severe limitations in how things were reported.

While this would have been forgivable in 2015, when the technology was just starting to manifest on passenger vehicles, policymakers and the broader industry have encouraged its proliferation for several years despite there not being much direct evidence that it’s actually making our roadways safer. In fact, we have data that per capita fatalities have increased rather dramatically since ADAS became normalized. It’s all very frustrating and makes it borderline impossible to draw any useful conclusions. Other outlets may not admit it, but the NHTSA has done an incredibly poor job of accurately assessing the efficacy of modern-day safety systems and most automakers haven’t exactly been forthcoming with their data.

[Image: General Motors]

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43 Comments on “NHTSA Issues Initial Crash Report for Driver Assist Tech...”


  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Driving is a very complex task that is beyond the capability of current technology. Before driver assist, you had to actually drive the vehicle. Otherwise, it would run through stop signs and red lights or wander off the road. With driver assist, “driving” has changed to watching the vehicle like a hawk in case the software gets a wild hair and decides to run off the road or precipitate an accident some other way. Examples are phantom braking and Tesla’s attraction to parked emergency vehicles. During TTAC’s own test of last year’s Mazda 3 Turbo Premium Plus, the software misunderstood pavement markings and tried to run the car into the curb. This isn’t an acceptable level of performance unless your reference standards are drunks and texters.

    • 0 avatar
      ScarecrowRepair

      My current ride is from 2001 and has plenty of life left in it. If I ever have to buy one of these automated disasters, I will disable as much as I can; I find it all too likely that the recent increases in traffic accidents and deaths are from drivers who think they can take their eyes off the road to answers messages, because the lane assist and emergency braking will cover emergencies. I believe I would fall prey to the same temptation after even just a few days of finding they mostly work ok. We’re all human, and it seems a very natural mistake,

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “…the NHTSA has done an incredibly poor job of accurately assessing the efficacy of modern-day safety systems and most automakers haven’t exactly been forthcoming with their data.”

    Agreed.

    My guess about Tesla’s prominence in the results is that every Tesla driver knows they have some autonomous capability, and Tesla never stops talking about it. Crowing about being the greatest earns you more attention when something goes wrong.

    Our new Santa Fe has some driver assistance stuff, but I don’t know if it qualifies as Level 2, or what it claims to be. After some thought, I disabled the automatic braking because my wife complained that the car would brake check itself in traffic. It does produce obstacle warnings and lane-keeping, which I appreciate. The lane-keeping alerts after about 20 seconds of no-hands on the wheel.

    However, the day after we bought it we suffered an ice storm on the PA Turnpike, and the smart cruise control radar quit working because the sensor was blocked. So I had the indignity of driving home manually!

    I wonder how long it will take mfrs, govt agencies, and consumers to tire of the lack of progress on these systems, and what then? Related, Mr Musk recently said that Tesla’s future value is wholly based on self-driving tech – not making cars – which is one of the dumbest things he has ever uttered. Without it, he said the company is essentially valueless. I’m sure his board of directors was thrilled.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      “, I disabled the automatic braking because my wife complained that the car would brake check itself in traffic”

      Did you try and turn down the sensitivity first?

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        @jmo:

        Sensitivity: This isn’t the car-following distance, which works pretty well with the smart cruise. I have that set to the minimum.

        I was referring to the anti-collision braking, which would prevent hitting another car or a pedestrian. I’ve never had these aides before, so I expect that a simple audible warning is better than the annoyance of inappropriate brake application.

        • 0 avatar
          Argistat

          Our 2017 Kia Sorento allows sensitivity settings for Forward Collision Warning (I don’t recall if that also affects automatic braking sensitivity) via a settings menu. We set it to the most sensitive setting, and have never had any false braking or false warning sounds in 52k miles since new. It has saved us a couple of times from what otherwise might have been a close call… Yes I’m not a 100% perfect driver:)

          I do know these systems behavior and dependability varies wildly across manufacturers and models.

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          SCE,

          You can usually set how sensitive the emergency braking is. Looking at Kia you can set it to early or late intervention. You might have it set to early.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      @SCE:
      “Related, Mr Musk recently said that Tesla’s future value is wholly based on self-driving tech – not making cars – which is one of the dumbest things he has ever uttered.”

      Well, if Tesla can’t make FSD work, they’re gonna have to refund all the customers who dropped ten grand on it, so he’s not totally wrong.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        @Freed:

        “Well, if Tesla can’t make FSD work, they’re gonna have to refund all the customers who dropped ten grand on it, so he’s not totally wrong.”

        I think the number of people who have paid for FSD (at varying prices) isn’t that great, despite all the talk about it.

        Here’s an interesting chart:
        https://www.torquenews.com/1083/teslas-low-fsd-take-rate-offers-growth-opportunity

        The take rate for FSD in Tesla’s high volume products has plummeted *a lot*. I think the word is out that it’s a scam.

        Maybe what Mr Musk means is that Tesla can’t afford the class-action lawsuit that will arise when Tesla can never deliver the “Full” in Full Self Driving.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      Good point. My guess is that Musk is starting to realize that Tesla will gradually lose its competitive edge in terms of charging and range in the years to come. But hanging it on things like FSD (something I would argue has bordered on being a scam) doesn’t seem the best solution for the brand.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        “My guess is that Musk is starting to realize that Tesla will gradually lose its competitive edge in terms of charging and range in the years to come.”

        Seems like a prime opportunity to invest in stuff that will ensure long term success, like quality control. If only they had $44 billion to spend on that…alas, that’s the money for Musk’s Twitter ego trip.

    • 0 avatar
      BrentinWA

      I am the owner of a level 2 ADA equipped vehicle; a 2018 Cadillac CT6 with SuperCruise. SuperCruise is well beyond auto braking and lane keep assist. Personally I loathe lane keep assist and auto braking and those are disabled on my car when I am driving. SuperCruise only works on controlled access divided highways and GM will disable sections of road from the system if there’s significant construction or other factors. SuperCruise is incredibly useful when you’re in a long flat predictable road. It will work in curvy situations but it will likely slow the car down, A LOT. It does not work above 85mph either. There is LiDAR, Radar, GPS and a host of cameras and sensors watching a lot of points and data, including a camera watching me watch the road and a host of infrared sensors tracking engagement and alertness. When the road goes twisty, SuperCruise comes off and my smile comes to my face and I wind up the twin scrolls, and toss the car around like it’s a 911 on the Autobahn.

      Right now, I quite enjoy the balance of piloting the car, and the semi autonomous advantages that come with the package. I also have plain ol’ dumb cruise and adaptive cruise too. When I was looking to acquire a CT6, I sought out one without SuperCruise, but the one I bought was a screaming deal so I would have been sToOpId to pass it up. Keep an open mind.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    I’m sure it’s not that Tesla owners are arrogant sh!t heads that can’t be convinced they don’t own fully autonomous cars. They love showing off their autonomy every chance they get, including plastering videos all over social media of them driving in illegal and irresponsible manors.

    • 0 avatar
      redapple

      Denver
      Tesla drivers?
      -beta boys
      -gadget guys
      -guys that never have nor are interested in disassembling an engine.
      -guys that are maxed out changing a tire.
      -guys that are oooooooh, eeeek, grossed out pumping gas.
      -guys that must have the latest Mac.
      -guys that think beards are cool. Tats are cool.
      -guys that think guns are evil bad. real bad.
      -guys that think the police ARE the problem.
      -guys that think Kazner and Gascon are doing a great job.
      -guys that are, sotto voce, afraid of girls.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Stereotyping for fun and…not sure what else…

      “They love showing off their autonomy every chance they get, including plastering videos all over social media of them driving in illegal and irresponsible manors.”

      And because some diesel pickup truck owners like to make videos of themselves rolling coal on pedestrians, truck owners are coal rollers…right?

      “-guys that think the police ARE the problem.”

      And since the two brain-dead clowns that killed Ahmaud Arbery were driving a Ford pickup and clearly had no respect for law enforcement, all guys who drive Ford pickups are brain dead clowns who like to cruise neighborhoods looking for Black joggers to blow away. Right?

      SCE is right. Do better.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @DM: “They love showing off their autonomy every chance they get, including plastering videos all over social media of them driving in illegal and irresponsible manors.”

      — There’s a reason that the, “Hold my beer, watch this,” meme includes far more than just the Tesla drivers. More non-Tesla drivers drive in illegal and irresponsible manners than Tesla drivers. Tesla drivers just get called on it because… Tesla.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        It’s not just that. GM sells exponentially more vehicles with just as much autonomy, but where’s the self gratification videos of GM drivers taking a nap, not watching the road, chatting up their nerd blogs or whichever, while the vehicle completely drives itself at considerable speeds through traffic?

  • avatar
    kcflyer

    The NHTSA has possibly been politicized just like the IRS, FBI, CDC, Justice Department, etc. Since Elon has left the church of liberalism it would not surprise me if someone is putting their thumb on the scales to present Tesla in the worst possible light. Not saying it is happening or ever will. Just that it would not surprise me.

    • 0 avatar
      ravenuer

      Nobody has to put their thumb on the scales to present Tesla in the worst possible light. He’s doing a fine job with that.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      I really dislike defending Tesla because there is plenty about its business practices that rub me the wrong way. However it sounds like we’re in the same boat after watching the press and some regulators crack down hard on the company after it broke away from the establishment. It makes you wonder a little.

      Frankly, I just want to make sure all brands are held to the same standards and for the NHTSA to release a report that’s actually useful. Because this last one was so bad that I’m kind of shocked it was released at all.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    I agree, we need increased regulatory pressure across the board in all industries.

  • avatar
    jmo

    How many accidents occurred when people were actively driving? Isn’t that the key metric? Are they getting in more accidents or fewer accidents? I know I drive more aggressively than the self driving on the highway.

  • avatar
    Funky D

    I really don’t want to shop for a new ride until next year, but maybe I should look and see what can be ordered without all the nanny tech, but not be a base strip model.

    It has been demonstrated that airline pilots tend to over-rely on aircraft automation which has eroded actual flying skills, and these are supposed to be highly-trained professionals. How much more so is the average brain-dead driver being further dumbed down by all the nanny tech? That it is a problem should surprise nobody.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Good. We need more data on this.

    And while they’re at it, why doesn’t the government investigate how Tesla is getting away with ripping off customers to the tune of ten grand for “full self driving” that has never worked, and probably never will?

    Put differently: if Elon Musk has $44 billion to for his little mental masturbation project…oops, Twitter…he certainly has enough to refund the customers he ripped off.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed; I think FSD is a question for the SEC or whoever monitors consumer protections.

      Related, I don’t know how Tesla gets away with deleting the option when the car is traded. This rips off the first buyer and/or the reseller, and possibly the second buyer if they really want the option.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    By the way…not to burst Posky’s political bubble, but Tesla’s been on the weaponized government’s radar for some time now, and has been HIGHLY critical of its’ self-driving tech. Here’s a piece from February 2020:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/25/business/tesla-autopilot-ntsb.html

    (Non paywall copy of NYT article: https://focuswashington.com/2020/02/26/tesla-autopilot-system-found-probably-at-fault-in-2018-crash/)

    “We urge Tesla to continue to work on improving Autopilot technology and for NHTSA to fulfill its oversight responsibility to ensure that corrective action is taken when necessary,” Robert L. Sumwalt, the board’s chairman, said. “It’s time to stop enabling drivers in any partially automated vehicle to pretend that they have driverless cars.”

    Since then, what’s Tesla been doing to fix this, besides introducing supposedly higher-level self driving tech (FSD) that has never worked, and probably never will…and charging customers ten grand to buy? Far as I’m concerned, NHTSA isn’t the only federal agency that should be investigating here…the FTC should be looking at this as well.

    This is what happens when you act like Tesla has: the government tends to go into weaponized mode. That’s what it’s supposed to do.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      I’m not going to defend Tesla FSD or the brand’s ludicrously overhyped “self-driving” claims. They’re inexcusable and I’ve said so for years on this very website. Congress has been pushing the FTC to look into the matter for a while and it’s probably one of the only initiatives coming from Capitol Hill that I actually support.

      But I remain unconvinced that other automakers are delivering superior products or exist under the same levels of scrutiny. In fact the article you’ve shared was published not long after Musk publicly began stating that he wanted to move Tesla out of California and started bemoaning government regulation. While I cannot do more than speculate which entities may have it out for the company, this is roughly the time I noticed a tonal shift in how Tesla was treated in the media.

      It could all be warranted. But I’m also aware that legacy automakers have an army of high-paid lobbyists who have spent a lifetime trying to get the government on their side. Ideally, I’d just like to see all automakers held to the same standards and for subsequent NHTSA studies to have more useful information.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I suspect the data will show that the other manufacturers have faced less scrutiny because they haven’t sold as many “self driving cars” as Tesla has.

        And I’d have to think that the competitive “self driving” systems might prove to be just as error prone as Autopilot is.

        “In fact the article you’ve shared was published not long after Musk publicly began stating that he wanted to move Tesla out of California and started bemoaning government regulation.”

        But that was in 2020, under an administration that banked on Cali-bashing and calling regulations evil and socialistic. There wasn’t going to be a whole lot of blowback from that.

        Is it possible that this is political payback? If you want to view it through that lens, I suppose so. But the more likely scenario is that Tesla has been on the government’s safety radar for quite some time, and that’s on them – if they wanted to not be on the radar, they could have cleaned up their act. They didn’t. Instead, they basically doubled down rhetorically, and introduced FSD, which is basically a scam as far as I can tell. I’d say they were going to end up back on the government’s radar no matter who was in office.

        Shame, because the basic EV tech product is class-leading, and the major fault – build quality – could be fixed more easily than FSD. They should focus on simply executing basic car manufacturing, versus pie-in-the-sky stuff like FSD.

  • avatar
    Tirpitz

    The proper metric should be crashes per miles driven not total crashes. I think we all know Tesla gathers a huge amount of data and might be over represented as a result.

    Personally I’m suspicious of all these driver assistance features. Too many of them come off as half-baked and though Tesla has been the most vocal proponent I suspect a lot of manufacturers are beta testing their systems on the streets.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Until the vehicles are able to communicate with each other AND with fixed traffic management systems, they can never be fully autonomous.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      As I navigate simple construction zones in my area, I wonder how any autonomous system could possibly do it, especially in adverse weather.

      We recently had a crew digging a hole in the street at the corner of a 4-way stoplight. They routed traffic onto the turning lanes in a wide arc around their safety cones so that drivers could still get by if they exercised patience.

      I can’t see how an AV could successfully negotiate around the conflicting mix of cones, flagmen, lights, street lines, and other vehicles. And then do it in the snow at night.

      That’s what a Level 5 system must be capable of, and by definition, it needs no driver input to succeed.

  • avatar
    islander800

    Does the report state anywhere that Tesla should cease and desist from calling their software “full auto pilot” because, oh, I don’t know – IT’S NO SUCH THING and gullible Musk acolytes actually BELIEVE IT and accidents ensue?

    Asking for a friend…

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Technically, there are two different products:

      – Autopilot (free)
      – Full Self Driving (now $12000)

      “FSD” has more features and the mythical promise of Level 5 capability someday.

      However, both are only capable of Level 2 autonomy today, which Tesla 100% affirms. Driver vigilance is required, and the driver must agree before enabling the feature.

      Both names are misleading, but for somewhat different reasons.

  • avatar
    BrentinWA

    Cadillac SuperCruise >>>>> Tesla AutoPilot

  • avatar
    cantankerous

    I own a 2020 Ford Escape hybrid that has a modest assortment of driver assist features. Two of the more notable of these are lane departure warning/correction and adaptive cruise control.

    I have a love/hate relationship with the lane departure warning feature, which I have set to warning only vice the warning & steering correction mode to which it originally defaulted. On rare occasion it warns me that I have unintentionally begun to drift from my lane, and in those cases I am glad to have it to give me the automated equivalent of a mild slap in the face (i.e., a shake of the steering wheel). However, I estimate that 95 times out of 100, when the system “warns” me that I have deviated from my lane of travel, I have done so intentionally on a two-lane road where I have chosen to closely hug the right-hand side of the lane on a right-hand curve to give a wide berth to oncoming traffic that is dangerously close to or even over the road’s centerline. If I had steering correction enabled in those cases the car would actually steer me toward danger instead of allowing me to avoid it. No thank you.

    I have a similar love/hate relationship with the adaptive cruise control. For me, cruise control has always been a tool that helps me to avoid driver fatigue, one that allows me to pay *more* attention to the road ahead of and behind me, not less. Consistent with this, when using cruise in the presence of other traffic I keep a finger poised on the “cancel” button in order to disengage the system well in advance of getting too close to a cluster of slowly traveling vehicles. Temporarily canceling cruise in such a situation returns complete control of the accelerator to me until the clot of traffic clears or I am able to safely navigate my way through or around it, at which point I hit the “resume” button once I have gotten the car to or near its cruising speed. The Escape’s system, on the other hand, has no concept of coasting or temporary disengagement. It will slow the car down, often abruptly, when it detects slower traffic ahead, and then accelerates equally abruptly when either the “obstruction” or I change lanes. I’ve occasionally turned off the adaptive feature, but the warnings that I have done something so ill-advised — at least in the eyes of Ford’s lawyers — are so irritating that I no longer bother. Occasionally the system gets it right, but it is an annoyance in operation at least as often as it deals with such situations intelligently.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Driver assist really is a mixed bag, and context is a factor as well.

    I have deactivated all “driver assist” features except for the radar + camera emergency braking on my 21 Toyota. I had the collision avoidance system alert me once in a complex freeway situation and it was good. I reacted to the warning fast enough so that the braking was not invoked by the system.

    The radar adaptive cruise control is worthless to me on the interstate because I like to pick a speed and forget about it. (as in say, xMPH visa-vis the speed limit) If I catch up to somebody, I pass them. If somebody catches up to me they pass me. With radar adaptive cruise I’m back constantly monitoring my speedometer (just like my pre cruise control days) or I’ll find myself going 5 or even 10 under my set speed behind some other car in the right lane. That said my Toyota’s adaptive cruise can operate down to 0 miles an hour and start up again before it times out, and when I am stuck in crawl and go congested freeway traffic, or in a 100 vehicle parade stuck behind 25mph snowplows on Vail pass, that is when I absolutely love it. Toyota needs to put steering wheel data into the system, because when I move out on radar cruise to pass a semi truck and the highway bends to the left the system picks up the semi directly ahead, and slows down. Grrrrr.

    I have driven about 1,000,000 miles in my life without lane assist. The curmudgeon in me says I don’t need it now. In winter driving on snowy roads it misreads the tracks in the snow on the road more often than not and constantly false alarming.

    Blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert? Good stuff.

    I have a friend that loves lane assist and radar cruise and he’s put some investments in self driving car companies. That said, cars to him are just an appliance and I know that at times, he drives mildly intoxicated both alcohol and cannabis, so what does that tell you. ;-). So that opens the debate to the idea that does driver assist enable or encourage impaired drivers.?

  • avatar

    Reservations mean little. They are usually used to hype a product launch. The Hummer EV had a ton of reservations, but only 1500 have been sold this year!!

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