Scary Stats: Drivers Don't Know Jack About the Tech In Their Car

Over the weekend, I found myself conversing with a young woman who admitted to being slightly creeped out by modern automotive technology. She had a bone to pick with everything from push-button ignitions to adaptive cruise control. It was surprising admission from an individual who is planted squarely in the middle of the Millennial age bracket and has no serious interest in cars, but one I’ve been hearing more often lately.

The American Automobile Association seems to be rather touchy on the issue, as well. Much of its interest in the subject revolves around present-day tech lending itself to distracted driving, something it is firmly against. But the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety appears absolutely convinced that the introduction of advanced driver assistance systems will save lives. However, it also believes that its full potential won’t be unlocked until consumers accept these technologies, understand how to use them, use them as intended, and avoid misusing or becoming over-reliant on them.

Frankly, that sounds like wishful thinking. So long as advanced driving aids exist, they’ll probably be misunderstood and misused. People don’t even use their turn signals correctly, for Christ’s sake.

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Drowsy Driving Might Be a Bigger Problem Than Previously Thought

Back in 2014, an American Automobile Association study estimated that tired motorists were responsible for around 328,000 accidents annually — 6,400 of which were fatal. However, unlike drunk driving, there’s no sound metric for assessing the true scope of the problem. Getting tired is something that just sort of happens. People don’t stay out all night not sleeping because it’s fun, the police can’t test for it, and almost nobody is going to say they were dozing off behind the wheel in an accident report — either because they are too embarrassed or stopped feeling tired at the moment of their brush with death.

That makes the issue a bit of a phantom menace. We all know it’s a problem, but the frequency remains debatable. Fortunately, a new study released by AAA this week helps clear things up. Researchers affixed dashboard cameras to 3,593 vehicles in order to monitor the drivers’ faces, then used a PERCLOS-based fatigue monitoring strategy to come to the conclusion that drowsiness is a contributing factor in 10.6 to 10.8 percent of all accidents resulting in significant property damage, airbag deployment, or injury.

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Won't Get Fueled Again: AAA Testing Suggests Premium Gas, for the Most Part, Isn't Worth Your Cash

Most readers of this site know exactly what an octane rating is and how it relates to the bang it provides in an engine. Hauling up to the pumps and being presented with a choice of everything from 87 to race gas is one of the benefits of living in America.

Higher octane fuel is more expensive than other grades and the gulf between regular and super-duper-extra premium is steadily increasing. Is it worth “treating” your car to a tank of high octane every now and then? The American Automobile Association says absolutely not — and they have the testing to back it up.

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Driving Tired Remains a Persistent Problem With One Solution: Study

We’ve all been there. It’s late, we haven’t slept enough, and we’re cruising down a chilly freeway wrapped in warmth and white noise. Then, unexpectedly, we begin to nod off. From here, we can either spring back to a terrified state of consciousness that will sustain us the rest of the journey or we can fall asleep and ultimately destroy our vehicle — and maybe ourselves — in the process.

Drowsy driving is a real problem. But, while we’re always hearing about how it’s just as dangerous as driving drunk, we don’t often see statistics backing that up. That’s mainly because it’s a lot harder to assess someone’s tiredness than it is to give them a breathalyzer and toss them in the back of a squad car. But a 2014 study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimated drowsy drivers could contribute to 328,000 accidents annually, with around 6,400 being fatal.

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Doing the Math: Over a Quarter of New Cars Do Not Come With a Spare Tire

It always happens when you aren’t expecting it. You’re cruising along in your automobile, listening to the radio and making wonderful time. Then, all of a sudden, the steering feels odd — there is an overabundance of vibration and the car keeps pulling to one side. You’ve got a flat tire.

Annoying, to be sure. Fortunately, this isn’t your first rodeo and you pull off to swap the punctured rubber with a spare. However, if you own a brand new car, you might be disappointed to learn there’s decent chance it doesn’t even have one. According to a recent study conducted by the American Automobile Association, 28 percent of 2017 model-year vehicles aren’t equipped with spare tires — leaving you breaking out the compressed air and sealant or calling for a tow truck.

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AAA Study Finds Infotainment Systems Dangerously Distracting

Automobiles are more tech-laden than ever and, according to a recent study, those interactive bells and whistles contribute heavily to distracted driving.

With connected cars ready to shoot off assembly lines and into driveways at an accelerated pace, the danger of someone flicking through their dashboard menus when they should be looking at the road is only going to grow. Many states prohibit phone usage while driving, yet there is no law against setting your radio pre-tunes or customizing your digital dashboard while hurtling down the expressway — not that there necessarily should be.

However, the American Automobile Association’s Foundation for Traffic Safety commissioned researchers from the University of Utah to examine the physical and mental demand required to complete various tasks using the infotainment systems in 30 new 2017 vehicles. The conclusion was that the growing cavalcade of buttons, screens, and technology does an incredibly good job at keeping you from minding the road ahead.

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Tesla Motors Annoyed After AAA Raised Insurance Rates on Its Cars

The American Automobile Association thinks Tesla cars should cost more to insure due to abnormally high claim frequencies and expenditures compared to similar vehicles. The group said premiums for Tesla’s Model X and Model S could increase by up to 30 percent, based primarily on data from the Highway Loss Data Institute. “Looking at a much broader set of countrywide data, we saw the same patterns observed in our own data, and that gave us the confidence to change rates,” said Anthony Ptasznik, chief actuary of AAA.

Obviously, Tesla Motors isn’t pleased and is offering a rebuttal before other insurers follow in AAA’s footsteps.

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Forget Automakers, Now AAA Wants to Lend You a Car

Automakers, both domestic and come-from-away, all want you to do the next best thing if your meager funds aren’t enough to get you into a showroom: borrow a car.

Ride-sharing services provide mainly urban dwellers with the car they so desperately crave, without the years of payments or need to find permanent parking. And, if an automaker partners up with a service provider — or creates its own — there’s still money flowing back to the offices of Big Auto. Win-win, no?

The growing trend is hard to ignore, and it means that automakers — already new to the game — face ever greater competition, even from unlikely sources. The latest company to offer a ride-sharing service isn’t a manufacturer at all. It’s the American Automobile Association.

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Try to Avoid Offending Other Motorists, AAA Warns North Jersey Drivers

Warm spring weather seems to have motorists in northern New Jersey acting on their not-so-best behavior. So much so, that a local American Automobile Association branch has issued a plea urging motorists to avoid road rage and “resulting driver confrontations.”

The Situation needs to simmer down.

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The Average American is Seriously Afraid of Autonomous Cars: Study

There is something uncanny about a car that can drive itself. If you transplanted the world’s first motorists into a modern autonomous vehicle and let it lose on a track, they’d probably surmise witchcraft as the only plausible explanation and jump out in terror. Humans are innately distrustful of anything unfamiliar — it’s an important part of our survival strategy as a species. With that in mind, it isn’t surprising to hear that many Americans are a little wary of self-driving cars.

However, a recent study from the American Automobile Association suggests it might be more serious than that. The vast majority of surveyed Americans admitted to being “afraid” of riding in an autonomous vehicle while over half said they felt less safe at the prospect of sharing the road with driverless technology. This isn’t likely to be welcome news for automakers, considering that every major manufacturer is currently investing heavily into the computer and industrial sciences required to make autonomous tech possible.

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Study Shows Millennials Are the Worst Drivers, Like You Didn't Know

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (a research arm of AAA) released a report yesterday detailing their findings on hazardous driving behaviors across different age groups.

Unsurprisingly, Millennials fared about as well as they might if they stepped on your lawn.

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Gen Xers, Millennials Struggle to Find Trusted Mechanics

Everyone knows a friend or, more frequently, a friend’s middle-aged dad who has “a guy.”

The guy in question doesn’t necessarily need to be male and the friend only needs to know them tangentially. They just have to be some kind of professional or tradesman that they trust implicitly with a single important aspect of their life. For automotive enthusiasts, the guy is a mechanic and usually has a whole shop backing him up. Unfortunately, “the guy” has remained elusive for younger generations.

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Syncro-Nined: An Ennead of Surprising All-Wheel-Drive Golfs That Predate the R32

The recent news that Volkswagen is pondering an all-wheel-drive Golf for U.S. customers surprised many.

“All-wheel drive is now part of the Volkswagen DNA,” commented Dr. Hendrik Muth of Volkswagen at the U.S. launch of the Alltrack.

That means Volkswagen will be taking on Subaru, the reigning king of all-wheel drive for the masses in the U.S. And since the Golf is already fairly dear in price, adding an all-wheel-drive option to the hatch will make Volkswagen’s compact a near-luxury item. At that price, why wouldn’t you just buy an Audi? It’s the brand with the all-wheel-drive expertise in the VAG clan.

But the reality of an all-wheel-drive Golf is now 20 years old.

Let’s take a look back at nine of the more interesting pre-Alltrack, pre-4Motion versions of the Golf that most U.S. customers have never even heard of.

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Automatic Emergency Braking Won't Always Stop a Crash, But Americans Think It Will

Automatic emergency braking is finding its way into more and more cars (and automakers have a pact to make it standard equipment by 2022), but most drivers don’t know the technology’s limitations.

AEB systems slow or stop a vehicle in an emergency, preventing or mitigating a crash, but an American Automobile Association study shows that 71 percent of U.S. drivers familiar with the technology believe AEB will prevent all crashes.

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Vehicle Breakdowns Hit a Record High in 2015: AAA

More Americans enjoyed a vacation on the side of the road last year than ever before, according to the American Automobile Association.

Vehicle breakdowns reached a new high in 2015, with 32 million calls logged to AAA from drivers in distress. Of the most common problems, vehicles less than five years old make up a large part of the tally. So, what’s the deal? Are vehicles going backwards in quality?

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  • Ravenuer 15 Overpriced Vehicles? I'd say they all are.
  • Ravenuer Bought a new 96 GXE. Paid $25002 for it. Hands down the best, most reliable car I ever owned! Put 300k on it with only minor repairs. Miss it.
  • Bfisch81 My friend's mom bought a fully loaded 96 and I remember really liking it. I still thought my granddad's 89 was cooler and sportier but the 96 felt more luxury which wasn't a bad thing in and of itself.
  • Art Vandelay Battery issues aside, I didn’t hate it. I’d have just been paying for range I didn’t need.
  • THX1136 Saying that because 'marked up' vehicles are selling means they are not over priced assumes the folks paying over MSRP know that they are paying more than the manufacturer price set for the vehicle and are happy to do so. I'm guessing in some instances it may be the buyer is ignorant of the situation - or buys with a 'I gotta have it now, I can't wait' attitude. As others have mentioned if one does the work to find a fair price, they don't have to pay an inflated price. Laziness enters into the equation too. But I would agree, generally, that if folks are paying an unreasonably high price they must be okay with that. If demand drops significantly, prices would moderate. Big if.