Ford Authority

New Car Owners Fail To Fully Grasp Adaptive Cruise Control: Study

Driver-assist features are becoming more and more common in new vehicles, including hands-free driving tech like Ford’s BlueCruise and GM’s Super Cruise – both of which have been praised by critics. The emergence of this sort of technology has also prompted changes in the way government agencies operate. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently required mandatory crash reporting for all vehicles sold with Automated Driving Systems, while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has begun giving those systems ratings and recently called for improving automatic emergency braking (AEB) system standards. However, a new study from AAA has found that most new car owners are having trouble grasping features like adaptive cruise control.

“Our research finds that drivers who attempt the ‘self-taught’ approach to an advanced driver-assistance system might not fully master its entire capabilities,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “In contrast, drivers who have adequate training are able to effectively use the vehicle technology.”

In its study – which involved 39 drivers between the ages of 25 and 65 that had purchased a new vehicle with ACC but had never had one before – AAA looked specifically at adaptive cruise control and examined how owners’ understanding of the system evolved over their first six months of ownership. During that time frame, it became clear that owners learned more about the system’s limitations, but they also failed to learn as much about how it operates when compared to drivers that were given a small amount of instruction beforehand.

At the same time, a small group of drivers was overly confident in their understanding of advanced cruise control, which could increase the risk of a crash. Those owners believed that the system would react to stationary objects in their lane such as construction cones, that ACC technology provides steering input, and that it can function properly in all weather conditions.

“This research suggests that today’s sophisticated vehicle technology requires more than trial-and-error learning to master it,” said Jake Nelson, AAA’s director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “You can’t fake it ’til you make it at highway speeds. New car owners must receive training that is safe, effective, and enjoyable before they hit the road.”

We’ll have more insights like this to share soon, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for ongoing Ford news coverage.

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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  1. Mark L Bedel

    I’m not a fan either. I always change it back to “normal” cruise which allows me to have control over my braking points.

  2. whypac

    All the automatic everything sounds great on paper, but out in the real world all of it is crap.

    The automatic everything only works under perfect conditions, but out in the real world there are always exceptions that the automatic systems cannot handle. And the exceptions that the automatic systems cannot handle cause accidents.

    Out of all the automatic systems out there, the system I most certainly wouldn’t want is automatic emergency braking. Driving at speed I don’t want to be rear-ended by an idiot tailing gating me when some second idiot decides to squeeze in between me and the car in front of me to do a multi-lane change or pull out in front of me at intersection barely having time to clear before being hit.

    I’m the driver. I will decide whether or not I need to hit the brakes in these situations.

  3. Patrick Luft

    Were perfect in every way, aren’t we? We are humans and never make errors in judgement and make the best decisions every time. I’m in control and never make mistakes. I think that the car manufacturers/dealers do not help in any way by not conveying what these systems can do. In turn, we make judgements and create bias’s towards it because we don’t understand it.

    1. Nick

      Auto braking gives you a warning first l love it. Works great in my Fird f150. It’s a great safety feature

  4. Scott A.

    The one option I would like to really see is a – no technology option.

    1. Mike

      Amen brother. I have had a 96 Ford Ranger Splash with a 5 spd manual, for 18 years, and have done ALL the driving myself, and never have had an accident. so why do I need driver assists? And I never get distracted, because all my attention is on the road, with no driver assists to operate the vehicle and let my mind wonder. I am in the market for a new vehicle, and my top priority is a vehicle with as little drivers assists as possible.

  5. Jim Nicholson

    I would not trust Ford’s advancement in adaptive cruise control. I have a 2013 Lincoln with adaptive cruise that works very well. I purchased a new F150 in 2018 with this feature expecting similar performance. It does not work well at all. Took it into the dealer 3 or 4 times to get it fixed and they can’t fix it. Every time it goes in, the dealer comes back with a different reason that it shouldn’t work with excuses including, the sun it too bright, it is not bright enough, it is raining, there are curves in the road, it has been working for more than 30 to 45 minutes and probably best of all, it will not work in a drive through.

  6. Bruce Shel

    The article indicates that the ACC takes time (6+ months) to get used to, as well as being able to understand the system better. That was almost exactly my timeframe/learning curve. Initially, I was reluctant to trust the advertised ACC system but, by studying the features closely – and I might add that I fall into the “KIA” (Know-It-All) category -, I have become a true believer! I’ve driven my 2020 Corsair all over America, often at highway speeds, and eventually accepted that there is no way I can be as effective at avoiding conflict 100% of the time as can the ACC system. As a former engineer and competitive driver, I am very impressed! I wish I could provide this technology to my 3 driving grandkids! Eventually it all will be commonplace. Eventually.

  7. Dave Mathers

    I LOVE my Adaptive Cruise Control. You quickly realize how many idiot drivers are out there as you watch the speedo go up and down matching the vehicle in front.

  8. Dale

    All the Adaptive devises are useless in heavy highway traffic at high speeds. The semi drivers sure like to take their time passing another semi truck. Once that is accomplished the car that got stacked up then drive crazy.

  9. Tim

    Yes more crap to go wrong. Focus on quality reliability and value for the dollar.
    Deliver your products in a timely manner, more like months not years.

  10. missingxtension

    LOL, I dont appreciate computer aids either. Even traction control and stability systems completely change the way a vehicle is supposed to act.
    I think that they are a liability with the exception of auto braking at slower speed where that would stop the most common i didn’t see that situation.

  11. Ron schoenlau

    After driving passenger buses and tractor trailers since 1970 I have learned that most of the people out here especially the younger ones like to pile up on top of each other not leaving room for the trucks to pass when they need to that’s said most of the companies have the trucks turned back that they can’t go any faster and they buy smaller engines that can’t pull fast especially on upgrades next time you’re around a truck leave it pass and you won’t have all the backup traffic we get! Following close to other cars in the left lane with no room for trucks to pull out to keep moving it’s the main reason you’re having all this backup pass the truck and get away from it passing at a safe distance from the truck allows the driver to see you not jumping out from behind the truck allows you to get run over I don’t know what’s so hard about everybody trying to figure this out but they can’t figure it out give the trucks room, as far as active cruise control took me 50 miles to learn how it works on a big road bus and I really liked it on the open road if you do the count of 1001 to 1006 thats you’re safe following distance also means you need to move out when you get to that distance from another vehicle at 1,004 they slow down learning that distance allows you to keep on cruise control for most of your trip until you get the cars all piled up on top of each other on the left lane then it’s a joke happy driving !!!


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