The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s most recent technical report reveals that the understanding of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) changes for drivers in the first six months of vehicle ownership.
In ‘An Examination of How Longer-Term Exposure and User Experiences Affect Drivers’ Mental Models of ADAS Technology,’ AAA recruited 39 drivers between the ages of 25 and 65 who had purchased a vehicle equipped with adaptive cruise control (ACC). The 39 participants had not previously owned a vehicle equipped with ADAS. Drivers were assessed before the study began and several times during the first six months.
AAA suggests that automakers and government agencies work together to understand driver performance, behavior and interaction with auto technology.
“Our research finds that drivers who attempt the ‘self-taught’ approach to an Advanced Driver Assistance System might not fully master its entire capabilities,” Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, says. “In contrast, drivers who have adequate training are able to effectively use the vehicle technology.”
AAA offers PLAN for new vehicle owners equipped with ADAS: Purpose, Limitations, Allow time for practice and Never rely on it.
Purpose: Consumers are encouraged to learn the purpose of ADAS by requesting hands-on training at dealerships, reading owner’s manuals and visiting the manufacturer’s website.
Limitations: Consumers should not make assumptions about what auto technology can or cannot do. ADAS should not be mistaken for a vehicle that can drive itself.
Allow time for practice: Drivers should take time to understand how to use technology in different road situations.
Never rely on it: Drivers should be encouraged not to rely on ADAS and to always be prepared to take back control of the steering wheel.
According to the technical report, this study was the second conducted to explore the impact of drivers’ mental models on performance. The first study used a combination of screening and training to establish two groups of participants. One group possessed strong mental models while the other possessed weak mental models. Few studies exist so far that have examined the evolution of mental models on new owners of ADAS-equipped vehicles. This second study’s goal was to assess mental models of naïve drivers using specific technology and evaluate the change in their mental models.
“These results suggest that six months of exposure yielded, on average, mental models of ACC that were better than the weak group, who received almost no training, and poorer than the strong group with extensive training. Six months of exposure was sufficient to improve performance relative to a group that received little training, but not enough to achieve the 24 robust mental models seen in the strong group. This finding further underscores the need of training and education for proper use and interactions,” the report states. “These results show that mental models improve over 6 months (for some drivers), but not to the level of understanding of a group that received a short but extensive introduction to ACC.”
The report states that results suggest room for improvement when it comes to drivers understanding ADAS, and more research is necessary.