AAA Warns Drivers Not To Rely On Car Safety Systems During Bad Weather

By Bill Galluccio

October 14, 2021

View through the rain-drenched windshield. Driver's hands and part of the car interior
Photo: Getty Images

The American Automobile Association is warning drivers not to rely on the advanced safety features in their cars when driving in inclement weather. AAA tested the features on multiple vehicles, including a 2020 Buick Enclave Avenir, a 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe, a 2020 Toyota RAV4, and a 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan3.

While the safety features, such as automatic braking and lane-keeping assist, are primarily tested in near-perfect conditions, AAA wanted to see how they hold up in bad weather.

"Often, these systems are tested in somewhat perfect conditions," Greg Brannon, AAA's director of automotive engineering and industry relations, told ABC News. "But the reality is drivers don't drive in perfect conditions."

After testing the vehicles in various conditions, they found the heavy rain can prevent the safety systems from working correctly. For example, cars equipped with brake assist traveling at 35 mph in heavy rain collided with another car one-third of the time during the tests. The lane-keeping assist fared even worse, with vehicles leaving the lane nearly 70% of the time.

"It's pretty, pretty substantial and surprising findings for something that is on a lot of cars today," Brannon said.

Brannon said that drivers should still use the safety features but need to pay attention and be extra cautious while driving in bad weather.

"AAA's advice to consumers that have advanced safety systems in their car really is the same regardless of what that system is, and that's to drive the car like the system is not there," Brannon said.

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