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Auto Safety Features: Good, Bad, and Indifferent

New readers to this topic can join in this discussion with the latests post being about Lane Keep Assist (post 16) of May 2022.

With recognition of the varying road conditions across the globe, lane assist may be the most laughable requirement of the lot with the least return on the dollar and an arguable safety enhancement. Why, eg roads in Cornwall, the Scottish Isles, or the tracks (improved or not) in the bush as flippant examples. But since they might help inattention on modern dual carriageways, US Interstate highways, the Autobahn, the M1 and friends, and similarly improved roads, lets mandate them?

I do not know anyone with lane sensors that has not turned them off and left them off. I obviously do not know everyone.

Even autonomous cruise (I love it) can become an accident waiting to happen if the driver is not actively ‘driving’. Personal experience: a bend to the right on the 4 lane road limit 80kph with a turn lane going to the left and a vehicle enters the turn lane and slows; the cruise sensors mistakenly thought that vehicle was straight ahead and closing very fast so hard braked. I disengaged it quickly so only a second of angst, but another second and there could have been a multi-car pile up. Someday they will add steering geometry to the ‘closing on an object’ algorithm, but apparently not universally yet, save for the ‘highly dependable and safe’ autopilot/autonomous implementations where the driver becomes a passenger. (yes, a bit of sarcasm, misplaced or otherwise).

Every safety feature might be more or less additive, but at what cost and result?

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Phil @PhilT you raise some good points in your post . As a further addition to my post regarding the Kia contract I cancelled my order for the new vehicle with the " Safety Kit " fitted . After driving a vehicle with the features you described in your post I found them annoying to say the least and the face recognition braking for pedestrians walking out in front of you gave 3 false positives . People at buss stops have a habit of leaning out to see if the buss is coming . The car braked . Obviously a false positive . On later inspection it was found the car had had the windscreen replaced and the face recognition sensors were incorrectly calibrated . Well that’s the story I got . Human error . If another vehicle had been behind me I could have been rear ended because of an " incorrect " calibration .

I turned the safety assists off . The second vehicle I borrowed for a week led to me turning the safety aids off as well . I had to drive down to Warne Ponds on the Princess Hwy . The lane assist was a real pain but I did like the idea of active cruise control and being able to set the distance between myself and the vehicle I was following . Could lead to complacency and an over reliance that these systems would prevent damage .

One manufacturer even described active cruise control as "preventing " damage whilst highway driving . They had to recall the manuals and replace the word "prevent " with " may help minimise damage " .

If these features were to save even one life on our roads I think making them standard on vehicles would be justified . Unfortunately like stability control when it was adopted by the motoring industry some drivers thought they were bullet proof and could not loose control of the car . WRONG .
Due to the motoring media and ANCAP testing figures being inflated due to fitment of safety packs we will probably see a mandatory adoption of these safe packs in Australia .

No system can cover every condition the average driver finds themselves facing in their daily use of their vehicle . They maybe just lulled into a false sense of security .

For now I will keep my car without these assists and see what unfolds in the future . Technology changes rapidly and it will be interesting to see what is offered in the near future .

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Can one imagine being prosecuted (civil or criminal) if one is in (at fault or not at fault) a serious (economic) or fatal (death) accident and the prosecution asserts you are liable because all safety features were not engaged, or at least the one(s) most likely to have mitigated or avoided the accident, regardless if they actually would have?

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Phil @PhilT I think we are/would be tip toeing through a legal minefield .

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I have only had it on a hire car and did exactly that. It works fine on a straight road with line marking in the centre and on the edge…but doesn’t work where there are no such line marking nor on curves where one may get close to the centre/edge line when turning.

For them to work effectively, all roads would need potentially wider lanes around corners and all line markings in the centre and on the edge. In Australia this rules out most roads outside urban areas (with exception of parts of the main highways) and all the unsealed/gravel roads…where such would have the most benefit.

Maybe before such decisions are made, those making a decision should get out of the city and see what little effect lane departure systems have…in places where it could have the most benefit if they worked.

It would be also interesting to see if the abundance of safety systems create complacency or increase risk taking?

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Three points of view, possibly imagined.

The Safety and Trauma Expert:
If it saves just one life it’s worth it. That it might add $3,000 to approx one million annual vehicle sales or $3B annually is irrelevant.

The Car Manufacturer:
It’s how we can help you to be a safer driver and it’s not about increasing the cost of a car. The beauty of technology as a value add is that the true cost to the manufacturer is invisible to the buyer. (OEM Sat Nav units are the platinum edged example.)

The Legal Profession:
We’re here to help. Impartial as always. $$$$$$

Unlike the previous three, consumers have limited ability to lobby. Choice members are one exception.

More focussed,
are we also crossing into the discussion topics on AI and Autonomous Vehicles? Digital and personal privacy might also deserve some comment? IE continuously monitored vehicle and driver behaviour.

It’s worth noting the significant requirements put in place for manned AI vehicle trials in Australia. A taste from the latest discussions across governments.

The vehicle enhancements of AEB, adaptive cruise control, and lane assistance are elements necessary for autonomous operation.
Is there evidence of similar rigour having been applied to trial and assessment in Australia prior to their introduction?

Would the motor vehicle owning consumer be forgiven for thinking it is neither about them or for them?

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Interesting to compare with the current covid situation - what price do we put on a life? and does it depend who is paying? (of course it does).

Perhaps if there was more revenue to be made from fining people from breaches of CHO orders like failing quarantine requirements or not properly distancing it would be lucrative enough to continue restrictions to save lives, but maybe I’m being a little cynical :wink: Toward zero indeed !

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and lane assist
are two quite different things.
Lane sensor (setting turned on all the time in our car by our choice) gives tactile feedback through the steering wheel to the driver when the car goes over a marked line (centre line, road side line, and if multi-lane road the lines between lanes). The sensation is rather like when a car without this functionality goes over a line that has “rumble strip” built into it. The technology obviously uses intelligence as well as cameras - so that at low speeds (eg parking, 40kph zones) it does not send the tactile feedback to the driver when a painted line is crossed.

Lane assist is part of driver assist, and in our car we can choose at anytime to drive in one of the following three modes:

  1. without driver assist (lane sensor still works)
  2. with what we think of as “smart cruise control” where the car uses the speed limit for the piece of road you are on and radar etc to detect vehicle in front to control the speed of the car. Usual cruise control warnings apply (do not use in suburban situations, do not use on winding roads, not good for driving economy on roads that go up and downhill a lot), and you can over-ride the speed setting (or set one if there are no speed zone signs).
  3. driver assist contains Lane Assist and smart cruise control and some other functions. In this mode you need to keep a light touch on the steering wheel but the car does the steering. You do not get the choice of turning this mode on if there are no clearly marked lines on the road (centre line, side line); the car indicates when turning this mode on is possible, ie when it can “see” the lines well enough. This mode is helpful on highways, freeways, expressways, tunnels, etc; it does not work properly when you leave that situation and enter a situation with street intersections (look at what happens to painted line markings in intersections and you’ll see why). When we choose to turn it on Lane Assist steers the car so that it remains in its lane.
    It will also help to change lanes - when we have this mode turned on we look to see if lane we want to move into is clear, we move the indicator stalk to show we are going to veer left or right, the lane assist does a check and then steers the car into the next lane, and then continues keeping the car in that lane (at the same time using smart speed control to adapt to the speed in the new lane).
    Lane assist only moves the car over one lane - which I think is a good thing (one of my pet beefs is when a car that is 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 lanes over from my lane does a lane change aross all of them in one move). The car uses radar and cameras to detect vehicles on all sides of you. At any time you can turn driver assist mode off by either of two methods - its control stalk, or simply resist the steering wheel with your hands. I can hear people asking “what if you don’t keep touching the steering wheel?” and the answer is that the car prompts you visually and audibly to remind you to do so.
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It’s great to have some experience related that can be compared with our everyday vehicle use.

We are rarely able to take advantage of basic cruise control. With the exception of a short section of the Bruce Highway (M1) the other advanced features described appear unusable. Partly due to line marking being either absent or frequently changing. I can see there may be some safety gains if you were drifting off in a long journey on a well formed motorway. Perhaps the Hume? But if you are so tired or distracted to not keep in the centre of the lane, is there another bigger concern about poor trip planning and fitness to be driving?

Even with the M1 there are frequent merging and diverging traffic flows. Vehicles changing lanes to get ahead, exit, darting into take up safe following gaps from the vehicle ahead to gain advantage are all too common. It’s not quite the right thing to do, but sitting in the far right lane at exactly 100kph by the vehicle speedo might be the best use of the advanced technology. Or that least likely to result in unnecessary system corrections.

I do like the idea of the autonomous emergency breaking, possibly because driving in heavy downtown and commuter traffic is full of split second reactions. It might help, or it might be a RPITA. :thinking:
I do my best to avoid both.

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My only experience with lane sensors was in a hire car last year. The constant false warnings drove me crazy for about a half day before I turned off the feature.

With my own car (which is RWD), I do something which seems counter-intuitive. When the roads are wet, I turn off the traction control nanny. I was too often caught out when trying to make a turn from a standing start, and even with very mild application of the accelerator, the nanny detects wheel spin and cuts engine RPM. When you are attempting to join the flow of traffic in Sydney, suddenly slowing in front of approaching vehicles is just too dangerous.

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I find it funny how people want to complain that the lane sensors doing what they are designed for drove them crazy so instead of correcting their driving they turned them off and say they don’t work properly everyone I know who has persisted with them now have no or very few problems with them as they have corrected their driving and do not unknowingly drift inside the lane

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Got to ask, do you or your mates ever venture off the main roads? eg roads with no or inconsistent lines, or very narrow lanes almost wide enough for a compact?

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I agree with @PhilT. If they worked properly and effectively, I would have no issue. Unfortunately they seem to be designed for motorway type driving where they have some benefit as lanes are usually marked on both sides…and only give a headache where there are no or inconsistent line markings. I have noticed that gravel roads where the surface as been swept by tyres or colouring between loose surface and underlying base is different, plays havoc with the system on the hire car we had. Also on one lane roads, leaving the pavement for oncoming vehicles troubled the system as well.

Add in overtaking etc…and they become more of an audible nuisance rather than an alert/warning system to those of us which venture away from urban roads or motorways.

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My experience had nothing to do with me drifting within a lane, and everything to do with the system ‘seeing’ things that were not lane markings and ‘thinking’ that they were lane markings. As I wrote, there were constant false warnings.

For anyone who would like to try for themselves or compare their own experience, the vehicle I hired was a 2019 Nissan Juke 2WD. We hired it for 15 days.

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New Australian ADR85 rule set to shake up the local vehicle market.

https://www.drive.com.au/news/adr-85-everything-you-need-to-know/?utm_source=Nine-Front-Page&utm_medium=Referral

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The 2022 Hyundai i30 Elite has Lane Keep Assist (LKA) as a safety feature. Does anyone in this forum think that, like me, that this could in fact lead to accidents, rather than avert them?

I understand that LKA is a common feature in many car makes and models now. Unfortunately, I do not feel that the LKA in my Hyundai i30 Elite is as good as it could be, and further, it cannot be completely disabled or altered, according to Hyundai.

In describing the LKA, Hyundai states that if a car strays from the road lane markings, the system will apply a “slight counter-steering torque”. In other words, the sensors in the car which read the road lane markings will activate the LKA and in effect take over the wheel.

I have several complaints about this feature in the Hyundai i30 Elite 2022.

  1. The LKA is not an opt IN feature, and it cannot be completely disabled according to Hyundai (as well as reading the manual and online articles, I specifically asked when I took the car in for the first month service).

Once I turn the ignition on, the system automatically drives with the Standard LKA enabled. I can push the button on the wheel to change the LKA setting to Active LKA which makes the car hyper vigilant in my opinion, or opt for the Lane Departure Warning System (LDW). I cannot disable it and choose to use LKA when I wish.

I’ve found that even if I opt for the Lane Warning System, the car reverts to LKA if the system mistakenly assumes the car is leaving the lane.

For example, if a road has sweeping curves, the LKA misreads the road lane markings which are following the curve and mistakes this for a driver error. The system then takes control of the wheel and tries to drive straight ahead rather than actually keep inside the lane.

Perhaps there is a way to shorten the distance of the car sensor detection so that it can quickly “see” that that the road curves, and doesn’t activate the LKA and try to take over the wheel. Does anyone know?

  1. The strength of the correction is not “slight” as Hyundai states. In fact the wheel counter-torque is so strong that I have to apply a fair bit of strength to stop the car actually leaving the lane.

It does not make for a comfortable drive, especially on a long trip. I feel that I have to hold the wheel permanently in a death grip waiting for the moments the LKA unexpectedly yanks the wheel left or right.

Another driver I know described his experience with the LKA to me as being like the passenger trying to take over the wheel from him.

I am always concerned that if I’m driving on a curved road that the LKA may mistakenly think I am running off the road and yank the wheel from my grasp. I am also worried that the suddenness and strength of the counter-torque might cause me to overcorrect or push my car into the car in the next lane, a person or object.

Does anyone else feel that the strong counter-torque of a Lane Keep Assist in their car might in fact cause an accident?

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Would you add your experience on roads that don’t have bright white lines/markings? Eg unsealed, poorly maintained, and single lane sealed w/no markings as is common in many regions?

It reads as if it is potential safety issue. First get everything you posted in writing from Hyundai regarding its operation and whether it can be turned on/off fully/partially. Add a description of how yours operates. Submit it via this site.

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This is a standard response for any LKA, irrespective of the manufacturer. The system is designed to correct a vehicle drifting out of a lane.

This is also a standard feature across manufacturers. It is designed to stop drivers forgetting to turn it back on and assumes it is disabled temporarily for some reason.

Try driving in Tassie. We have hired a number of cars and had friends visit who have hired cars, with LKA. In Tassie (or many rural areas) for many roads it isn’t good driving practice to keep within lanes (e.g. driving at night where animals can be on the road shoulder) nor is it possible on many winding roads. LKA becomes something to fight against unless it is disabled.

LKA is likely to become a safety feature mandated in the Australian Design Rules, especially if it becomes common on new vehicles. If it does, I just hope it can continue to be disabled.

Car manufacturers are installing technology trying to make driving safer…but assume every driver needs the technology and does things like being on a mobile when driving…hence installing LKA systems.

Do they cause accidents, it is highly unlikely in normal driving conditions. Like say ABS, there may be remote driving conditions where LKA is counterproductive in its operation, but these circumstances are likely to to rare and why manufacturers allow disabling of the technology. It is likely that the benefits to a distracted driver (which is an increasing risk in more recent times) far exceed the times where the technology isn’t warranted. I personally am a bit old school and don’t like technology replacing something I do well myself. Doing such I believe only creates more lax drivers, which is a perpetuating cycle of needing more technology to overcome or protect even more lax drivers.

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I’ve noted the discussion and for the next vehicle will be asking many questions including the key question of conveniently turning LKA off, and as for cruise control only activating it when conditions are suitable.

Curiosity?
Our greater amount of our driving is on secondary and rural roads. In some instances there is no centre line. In others the distance between the centre line and drop-off edge to the bitumen requires one to drive towards the middle of the road, subsequently slowing to move onto the dirt and pass oncoming vehicles. Mostly there are no left hand edge lines, but they can appear and then disappear. Right hand turning lanes are sometimes offset to the centre and in other instances the thru lane has an optional pass on the left lane/strip of bitumen. The second is often not separately marked. I can see that situation and automated collision avoidance creating some interesting scenarios at 80 kph.

When we do venture onto ‘The Bruce’ aka M1 it is forever being upgraded. As drivers we have difficulty distinguishing what the lane markings, old temporary and new all mean. In other places the stop go operator directs one to move to a single lane on the opposite side of the road, crossing a double centre line in the process. Good luck to the AI, and the lollipop holder standing where the car will want to go to keep us all safe. When safe to do so one can pass with suitable clearance a bicyclist, which can include crossing in part over the centre line markings might create more angst on our narrower roads.

Not unexpectedly Australia has a diverse range of non standardised driving conditions. Should it only be active on recognised high speed roads that conform to a minimum standard of lane markings, GPS interface required?

Which risk is LKA going to resolve?
Note for NSW which has the greatest number of drivers and miles of high standard multi lane roads.

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I have dark fears about this feature for many of the reasons already mentioned to do with driving on roads that do not have and (within my lifetime) never will have clearly and consistently marked lanes - or any at all. An additional situation that is common here is roadworks that go on for months, with ever changing pathways, lollypop men directing me to cross lines, old lines, new lines and no lines at all.

I agree that designers should work towards safer cars. Over the last 30 years we have seen considerable improvement in that area. The idea that as most driving is on made roads with marked lines then the car ought to be tuned for that with no real option terrifies me.

How can I be legally responsible for the actions of my car when I am behind the wheel if I have to counteract the efforts of the system to drive badly? I know that the efficacy of AI has been debated elsewhere and that is another issue but surely if I am in a situation where I know the AI cannot cope I must be able to easily disable it.

Every driving instructor and safety campaign tells us to drive to the conditions. AI assistance must do the same or let me do so, or we are not making any progress.

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