Active Driving Assistance Systems Do Less to Assist Drivers and More to Interfere

AAA automotive researchers discovered that vehicles equipped with active-driving assistance systems had an average of one issue per 8 miles over 4,000 miles.

New research in automotive engineering shows that 73% of performance problems were due to lane centering

ORLANDO (Feb 6, 2020) – AAA automotive researchers discovered that vehicles with active driving aid systems experienced an average of one issue per 8 miles over 4,000 miles. There were instances when the system was not keeping vehicles in their lane or allowing them to get too close to guardrails or other vehicles. AAA found that active driving aid systems that combine vehicle acceleration, braking, and steering often disconnect with little notice, almost immediately handing control back the driver. It is possible for a driver to become distracted from their driving tasks or too dependent on the system. AAA suggests that manufacturers expand the testing scope for active driving assist systems and limit their rollout to ensure a safer and more consistent experience for drivers.

The SAE International has classified active driving assistance as Level 2 on a six-point scale (0-5). These advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), provide the most advanced level of vehicle technology today. These systems are not 100% reliable and, therefore, most drivers will interact with vehicle automation for the first time or only.

Greg Brannon, director, automotive engineering and industry relations, stated that the AAA has repeatedly shown that active driving aid systems don’t perform consistently in real-world scenarios. “Manufacturers must work towards more reliable technology, such as improving lane keeping assist and providing better alerts.”

AAA evaluated the effectiveness of active driving aid systems under real-world driving conditions. They also tested them in closed-course conditions to see how they respond to common driving situations. Nearly three quarters (73%) were caused by lane departures or erratic lanes. AAA’s closed course testing showed that systems performed well, but they had to be challenged when approaching a disabled vehicle. This test scenario showed that 66% of collisions occurred and that the average impact speed was 25 mph.

Brannon stated that active driving assistance systems were designed to aid the driver and make roads safer. However, they are still in the early stages. It is not clear how these systems will improve the driving experience given the many issues that we encountered in testing. A bad experience with current technology could hinder public acceptance of fully-automated vehicles in the future.

AAA’s 2020 automated vehicle survey revealed that only 12 percent of drivers would trust driving in a self-driving vehicle. It is crucial that auto manufacturers improve functionality, such as active driving assistance systems, before deploying more vehicles. This will increase consumer confidence in future automated cars. AAA met with industry leaders to discuss the results of testing and make recommendations for improvements. These insights are shared with AAA members as well as the public to help them make informed driving decisions and purchase vehicles.


AAA collaborated with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, AAA Northern California, Nevada, and Utah’s GoMentum Proving Grounds to conduct closed-course testing and naturalistic driver testing. AAA used a set of criteria to select the following vehicles for testing: 2019 BMW X7, 2019 Cadillac CT6 and 2019 Ford Edge with Ford Co-Pilot360 ™, 2020 Kia Telluride and 2020 Subaru Outback with EyeSight(r). These vehicles were sourced directly from dealers or directly from the manufacturer. The 2019 Ford Edge and 2019 Cadillac CT6 were only evaluated in naturalistic environments. The full report contains details about the testing of equipment, closed-course scenarios, and naturalistic routes.

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AAA offers financial and travel services to more than 60,000,000 members through 32 motor clubs and close to 1,000 branches offices throughout North America. AAA, a not-for profit, fully tax-paying AAA, has been an advocate for safe mobility since 1902. The AAA Mobile app allows drivers to request roadside assistance, find nearby gas prices, get discounts, book hotels, and map their route. To join, visit

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Updated 01/25/22