Automaker Marketing May Lead to Overconfidence, Misunderstanding

According to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research, active driving aid systems combine vehicle acceleration, braking, and steering. Motorists who use them tend to ignore safety limitations. Research found that consumers can be misled by information that emphasizes convenience and capabilities, while minimising limitations. This can lead to unrealistic expectations about the system’s abilities and ability to handle certain situations. AAA warns against false perceptions of system capabilities that are created by marketing campaigns. This can lead to dangerous situations on the road.

According to Dr. David Yang (executive director of AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety), “Based on data from our research, subtle differences between tone and emphasis significantly affected people’s understandings of the technology” said Dr. David Yang. These systems can help the driver, take the stress out of driving but they do not eliminate the need for drivers’ attention.

The AAA Foundation’s latest study provided a quick overview of an active driving aid system. It had a fictional name, but 90 participants were given it. Half of the participants were informed that their system was called AutonoDrive before they could drive the same vehicle. They were also given a positive training that stressed the system’s abilities and ease-of-use. Half of the participants were informed their system was called “AutonoDrive” and that their training emphasized the limitations of the system and driver responsibility. AutonoDrive training gave participants greater confidence in their system, and sometimes even overconfidence. 42% of participants who used AutonoDrive said that the name makes the system seem more powerful than it really is. Only 11% of DriveAssist users thought the same. Participants who had learned about DriveAssist were also more likely to believe that AutonoDrive would behave in the following manner than those who trained on it.

Differences in Perception Between AutonoDrive and DriveAssist

There are potential consumer misinterpretations of new vehicle technology. According to a survey, 40% of Americans said that they expected active driving assistance systems (names like Autopilot or ProPILOT) to be able to drive their car on their own. AAA suggests that automakers give consumers accurate technical information, but also provide realistic expectations about what they will experience on the road. Consumers should be encouraged to engage with their drivers and understand the limitations of these technologies. It is the responsibility of car dealers to inform buyers about these technologies but not to sell too many features.

“Automakers are in business selling cars. They will, understandably, emphasize system capabilities and convenience in their marketing campaigns. Their marketing materials, consumer information, and marketing campaigns should not mislead motorists,” Jake Nelson, AAA director for traffic safety advocacy, research and research, said. “Words matter. We can do better by being more realistic when setting expectations for customers so that safety does not suffer from the sale of a vehicle.

Purpose – Learn about the purpose of active driver technology by reviewing the owner’s manual for your vehicle and visiting the manufacturer’s website.

Limitations – Know what technology can’t do and don’t make assumptions about automation. A self-driving system and an active driving system shouldn’t be confused.

Allow Time for Testing – Drivers should allow time for testing on the road so they can see how the technology works in real driving conditions.

Never Rely on It – Don’t rely on it; instead, act like the vehicle doesn’t have it and the driver is always ready to take control if necessary.

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Founded in 1947 by AAA, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a non-profit, publicly funded, and 501(c),(3) charitable research and education organization. The AAA Foundation is dedicated to preventing traffic deaths and injuries. It does this by investigating their causes and educating the public on how to reduce accidents and prevent them from happening. These materials are designed to educate drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and all road users.

AAA: 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

Century Park Law Group

Century Park Law Group is a law firm that specializes in auto, bike and bus, motorbike, pedestrian, driver, truck, Uber/Lyft and slip/trip and fall cases. We have been delivering the best results possible for all our clients over the last 17 years. We have created our Los Angeles personal injuries law firm to offer superior service to clients in Southern California. This includes thorough investigations of injury accidents and taking advantage of all available technology to expedite their claims. (866-675-0701 is the number to dial if you’ve been in a car accident, or need a personal injury attorney.

Updated 01/25/22