There is no doubt cars are getting smarter these days, why some can even park themselves. But are American drivers ready to give up control and let their vehicles do the parking for them? Not really, at least according to researchers at the American Automobile Association. Even though researchers say cars actually do a better job of parking themselves better than their owners do.
A new AAA survey finds that only 25 percent of drivers trust parking assist and that nearly 80 percent of drivers are confident in their own parallel parking skills. However, when put to the test, AAA researchers say self-parking technology outperformed drivers. In the study, drivers who used parking assist were faster, safer, and more successful than drivers who only used a backup camera.
“Autonomous features, such as active park assist, are rapidly being introduced into new vehicles, yet American drivers are hesitant to let go of the wheel. While the vast majority of Americans say they would not trust self-parking technology, AAA found these features performed well in tests and warrants consideration of new car buyers,” says John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair.
AAA put five cars to the parking test; a 2015 Lincoln MKC, a 2015 Mercedes-Benz ML400 4Matic, a 2015 Cadillac CTS-V Sport, a 2015 BMW i3 and a 2015 Jeep Cherokee Limited. The results show that drivers using parking assist were able to park with 81 percent fewer curb strikes and 47 percent fewer maneuvers with some cars able to park in one swift move. They were also 10 percent faster and 37 percent closer to the curb.
“AAA’s testing found that self-parking technology outperformed manual parking in number of curb strikes, number of maneuvers, speed and accuracy. While Americans report feeling confident in their parallel parking abilities, this technology proves there is room for improvement,” says Megan McKernan, manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center.
Despite all the great results, the auto experts at AAA would like automakers to work on one thing. Not having cars self-park so close to the curb.
“AAA recommends that drivers leave six-to-eight inches between the vehicle and the curb when parallel parking. With some systems leaving as little as a half-inch buffer, AAA urges automakers to increase this distance to prevent vehicle damage,” says Nielsen.
In the end, AAA thinks self-parking is a pretty useful tool for drivers and hopes drivers start to give it a chance. Researchers say it’s especially helpful for older drivers, who can have more difficulty parking. Plus, the technology removes the stress and the strain of twisting the upper body.
Of course, technology aside, knowing how to parallel park on your own is a must for any driver. So, sorry, it won’t be going away on driving tests any time soon.