These days a growing number of automakers are offering Rear Cross Traffic Alert systems in new vehicles. They use cameras, radars and sensors to help drivers detect objects and people behind them. But how well do they work in the real-world? Not always so well, according to the American Automobile Association.
In a new AAA study, researchers found these systems have plenty of limitations based on the vehicle and where it’s parked. They looked at the real-world scenario of parking between two large SUVs at a school or a mall. In this case, AAA found that large SUVs blocked the vehicle’s sensors, severely limiting the ability to detect pedestrians, bicyclists and other vehicles.
AAA tested the systems of five vehicles for accuracy and found:
- A passing motorcycle was not detected by the systems in 48 percent of tests.
- The systems failed to detect a bicycle passing behind the vehicle 40 percent of the time.
- The systems failed to detect a passing vehicle 30 percent of the time.
- While not all systems are designed to detect pedestrians, the technology failed to detect pedestrians 60 percent of the time.
“AAA’s independent testing showed that rear cross traffic alert systems failed to work effectively in several test vehicles,” cautions Megan McKernan, manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center. “It’s critical that drivers reverse slowly and use this technology as an aid to, not a substitute for, safe driving.”
While AAA may have issues with cross-traffic alert systems, the opposite is true for rear-view cameras. Researchers gave them a thumbs up following a round of tests in 2014. They say they increased visibility of the rear blind zone by an average of 46 percent. However, AAA notes that no system shows 100 percent of the space behind a vehicle and that rain, snow or slush can impede camera visibility.
Rear-view cameras will be required on all new vehicles by 2018.