'There is still a lot of work to be done in educating drivers about proper use of ADAS technologies and their limitations.'

The latest crop of advanced driver assistance systems is misunderstood and misused by many drivers, according to a new report by the US AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

According to the research, drivers are increasingly relying on these systems despite not being aware of how they work, or their limitations.

Dr. David Yang, Executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety said, “when properly utilised, ADAS technologies have the potential to prevent 40 per cent of all vehicle crashes and nearly 30 per cent of traffic deaths".

“However, driver understanding and proper use is crucial in reaping the full safety benefits of these systems. Findings from this new research show that there is still a lot of work to be done in educating drivers about proper use of ADAS technologies and their limitations," he continued.

The report covered common systems such as forward collision warning (FCW), automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane departure warning (LDW), lane keeping assist (LKA), blind spot monitoring (BSM), rear cross-traffic alert (RCTA) and adaptive cruise control (ACC).

According to the findings, at least two in three owners of vehicles with the technology reported they trusted it, with more than three-quarters responding that they found the technology useful.

Despite this level of trust, the report found that many drivers were unaware of limitations to the systems’ functionality.

For example, only 21 per cent of owners of vehicles with blind spot monitoring were able to successfully identify the limitations of the system, such as not being able to identify cars passing at high speeds.

The rest of the pool expressed various other misconceptions about the system’s functionality or reported they weren't sure of the limitations of the system.

In addition to this, 33 per cent of owners of vehicles with autonomous emergency braking fitted were not aware that the system relied on sensors or cameras that could be blocked by dirt, ice, or snow.

The report also found that this trust led to some potentially unsafe behaviours, with 29 per cent of respondents reporting they were comfortable undertaking other activities while driving with adaptive cruise control enabled.

A whopping 30 per cent of respondents reported relying on blind spot monitoring systems to the extent of sometimes changing lanes without visually checking their blind spot.

Finally, 25 per cent of respondents whose cars were fitted with rear cross-traffic alert reported sometimes reversing without looking over their shoulders.

These findings tie neatly in with those of an IIHS study from earlier this year, which discovered even the best semi-autonomous systems displayed behaviours ranging from "the irksome, such as too-cautious braking, to the dangerous".

The report indicates the lack of awareness of the functionality of some of these systems can be traced back to the dealership; with only half of the respondents being offered training in the functionality of the technology by their dealership.

Of those who were offered, nearly 90 per cent of respondents took advantage of the training.