AAA research shows that moderate to heavy rain may affect vehicle safety system’s performance

Driving a Car
Posted at 11:35 AM, Oct 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-14 11:35:32-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - AAA, in collaboration with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center (ARC), simulated rain and other environmental conditions (bugs and dirt) to conduct a study on the effect said conditions have on vehicle safety systems.

Vehicle safety systems are typically tested and evaluated in ideal operating conditions. AAA believes that testing standards must incorporate real-world conditions that drivers normally encounter.

“Vehicle safety systems rely on sensors and cameras to see road markings, other cars, pedestrians and roadway obstacles. So, naturally they are more vulnerable to environmental factors like rain,” said Holly Dalby, AAA Tidewater Virginia’s director of public affairs.

Automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assistance were tested in simulated moderate to heavy rain, and both systems struggled.

Testing was conducted in an aggregate simulated situation where automatic emergency braking is engaged while approaching a stopped vehicle in a lane ahead.

With the vehicle approaching at 25 mph a collision happened 17% of the test runs.

With the vehicle approaching at 35 mph a collision happened 33% of the test runs.

Testing was also conducted in an aggregate simulated situation where lane keeping assistance was engaged to maintain a vehicle’s lane position.

The test vehicle veered outside of the lane markers 69% of the time.

AAA’s research found that overall system performance was not affected during testing with a simulated dirty windshield, although minor differences were noted.

AAA recommends using extra caution in slick conditions by doing the following:

• Keep windshield clean and ensure that wipers are not streaking the windshield.

• Slow down and avoid hard braking and sharp turning. If possible, follow in the tracks of other vehicles.

• Increase following distance to 5-6 seconds behind the vehicle ahead.

• Do not use cruise control in order to stay alert and to respond quickly if the car’s tires lose traction with the road.

• If the car begins to hydroplane, ease off the accelerator to gradually decrease speed until the tires regain traction and continue to look and steer where you want to go. Don’t jam on the brakes—this can cause further traction loss.

AAA urges drivers to take time to read the vehicle owner’s manual to learn when, where and how to use a vehicle’s safety system.