2015 Virginia Motor Trend International Auto Show Is Putting the ‘Automated’ In the Automobile, But Read the Owner’s Manual First

Green Car Guide

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (March 20, 2015) – The next big thing in all things automotive is already here. This time around the sensors and the software and even safety, will trump the chrome and the chassis and most other factors, including horsepower and powertrains, as consumers pick the next set of wheels of their choice. Acknowledging this trend, the venerable Virginia Motor Trend International Auto Show is showcasing automated automobiles equipped with gadgetry that reduces crashes and alerts drivers to dangers and hazards on the road, including in-car electronics that provides drivers predictive information that prevents breakdowns and helps motorists save both time and money.

It is not quite the “Space Car” we envisaged on the animated TV series The Jetsons, but futuristic cars are presently rolling off the assembly line. The 2015 Virginia Motor Trend International Auto Show, which officially opens today to the car-gazing public, is featuring vehicles with autonomous systems and all the bells and whistles, including adaptive cruise control and autonomous braking function. However, reading the owner’s manual first is imperative. Automakers are noting system limitations in owner’s manuals, yet most motorists don’t even bother to fully read them, warns AAA.

“In-vehicle technology is one of the biggest buzz words and the hottest trends for car fanatics at this year’s Virginia Motor Trend International Auto Show. It is the hot topic for consumers in auto showrooms and on auto dealers’ lots across the nation and in the Commonwealth,” said Georjeane Blumling, Vice President of Public Affairs for AAA Tidewater Virginia. “Many motorists may not fully understand the operation and limitations of these technologies. Potential car buyers, as well as vehicle owners, must remember technology is not a substitute for being an alert and engaged driver.”

This weekend, the Virginia Motor Trend International Auto Show promises to deliver an array of in-vehicle technology and safety add-ons, including advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) designed to reduce collisions, improve traffic flow, enhance driver convenience, and keep drivers and their passengers safe.

If you are a car enthusiast heading down to the Virginia Motor Trend International Auto Show, or if you’ve been car shopping lately, chances are that you’ve been offered the opportunity to purchase additional optional safety technologies that are intended to keep you safe while driving. Systems that automatically maintain following distance, notify you if you’re drifting from your lane, or even take control of the brakes to prevent a crash are becoming more common, and they’re no longer confined to the highest-end vehicles.

Some drivers might not be aware of the system limitations of some new advanced driver assistance technologies, such as blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure warning systems, cautions AAA. While these new “in-vehicle” technology devices are all the rage and they have great potential to keep drivers safer, research by AAA found scenarios where the systems failed to perform as expected. This included delayed warnings by the blind-spot monitoring technologies and lane-departure warning systems failing to track the lane under certain road conditions.

To ascertain this, AAA Automotive Engineering conducted a study of blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure warning systems to better understand how they work and respond to various traffic scenarios. The auto club found:

  • Blind-spot monitoring systems had difficulty detecting fast-moving vehicles – such as when merging onto a busy highway. Alerts were often provided too late for evasive action.
  • Motorcycles were detected by blind-spot monitoring systems 26 percent later than passenger vehicles.
  • Road conditions were often a problem for lane-departure warning systems. Worn pavement markers, construction zones and intersections can cause the lane-departure warning system to lose track of lane location.
  • The litany of alerts and warnings could be confusing. Auditory, visual or haptic responses – or a combination – could be similar to other advanced driver assistance features that delivered the same warnings.

During the 2014 model year, for example, nearly three-quarters of vehicles offered blind-spot detection and 50 percent featured lane-departure warning as options. AAA conducted research on lane-departure warning and blind-spot monitoring systems in the third quarter of 2014. The research was conducted in partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center.

What is more, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety funded a project to develop a data-driven system for rating vehicle safety technologies. The goal? To educate and empower car buyers so they can make confident purchasing decisions when presented with a range of safety add-ons. “We also hope to do this by highlighting what is known about these technologies and what remains unknown. It is critical for drivers to understand that these systems should be used to supplement their own skilled, attentive driving, rather than be relied on as primary safety measures,” advised Blumling.

As part of North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA Tidewater Virginia provides its more than 325,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding AAA Tidewater Virginia has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.  For more information, visit AAA.com and follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/AAATidewaterVA or on Facebook at facebook.com/AAATidewaterVirginia