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AAA warns lane-keeping, automatic braking features struggle in bad weather

A car makes its way around a broken tree in San Antonio, Texas as Tropical Storm Hermine brings...
A car makes its way around a broken tree in San Antonio, Texas as Tropical Storm Hermine brings rains and winds to the area, Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2010. (APPhoto/San Antonio Express-News, Jerry Lara)
Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 3:53 PM MDT
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BOISE, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Advanced driver assistance systems, or ADAS, have the potential to significantly reduce the number of fatal and injury crashes on American roads.  But AAA warns that when rain and other inclement weather are in the forecast, these systems may not operate as intended.

Car manufacturers often test safety features like automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assistance in ideal weather conditions in order to replicate the results and rule out other variables.  But during AAA’s new research, test vehicles traveled on a closed course under a simulated downpour of moderate to heavy rainfall.

The results were shocking.  Test vehicles traveling at 35 mph collided with a stopped “dummy” vehicle in the lane ahead of them about a third of the time.  And lane-keeping assistance was even less effective, with test vehicles departing their lane 69% of the time in rainy conditions.

“During times of rain, snow, ice and fog, all of which are common in Idaho, drivers who own vehicles equipped with these features should stay alert and be ready to take over at a moment’s notice,” says AAA Idaho spokesman Matthew Conde.  “Someday, this advanced technology may be able to do everything on its own, but for now, there’s no substitute for an engaged driver.”

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