AAA study finds rain can impede car’s advanced driver assistance systems

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) – There is so much new technology in cars these days… for convenience, improving gas mileage and even enhancing driver safety. A new AAA study finds overall these gadgets are indeed a benefit, but some of these vehicle safety systems struggle to "see" in bad weather.

"In the study they looked at vehicles, for instance, traveling 35 miles per hour, and 33% of the time it did not see the stopped vehicle in front of it and actually collided," said April Engram, a communications specialist at AAA.

In a real-world simulation, AAA engineers designed a system to spray patterns of rain covering the entire windshield, and as a result, both automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assistance struggled .

"The cameras on the vehicle really did have a difficult time seeing, therefore, assisting the driver," Engram said.

The Rochester Automobile Dealer’s Association says while the enhanced features are certainly a step towards automated driving of the future, the study results come to no surprise.

"It really comes down to the functions of a number of things on a car. There’s radar sensing technology; there’s lidar, which is a form of lightwave radar systems, and you have a series of cameras in these cars," said Brad McAreavy, president of the Rochester Automobile Dealer’s Association.

The study only tested rain, so when the snow starts to fall, the AAA offers some good old-school advice.

"Be vigilant when you’re in your vehicle, drive slower make sure you have room between yourself and the car ahead of you," Engram said.

New technology aside, the AAA warns against using cruise control in rain or snowy weather. They say you want to make sure that you have that traction so you can feel when the car is moving, so using cruise control eliminates that.