The Problem With Lane-Departure Warning Systems in Vehicles
By Zac Pingle - Staff Writer
Many vehicle manufacturers, including General Motors (GM), include built-in automatic features in hopes of making the roads safer. These features include automatic brakes, assisted lane changing, and safety alert systems. However, one feature that was designed to make drivers safe has not been particularly effective in its purpose.
The “Bells and Whistles” of Changing Lanes
The Lane-Departure Warning (LDW) system found in many modern vehicles has been shown to be ineffective and even “irritating” to drivers who have the system in their vehicles. An LDW system works by making a loud beeping noise if a driver is about to exit his lane without using a turn signal. The problem, is that many drivers switch lanes without using turn signals when there is no danger of crashing, and often disable the feature.
An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Senior Researcher, David Kidd, stated that “We are seeing benefits from other systems, but with lane-departure warning, we are not.”
According to Kidd’s findings, nearly two-thirds of consumers turn off this system in their vehicle. The system is intended to prevent drivers from running off the road for cases such as drunk or drowsy driving. Although, even GM admits that the system does not reach expectations.
John Capp, General Motors’ director of global safety strategy, states that alerts are more effective if “you’re not necessarily announcing to your friend in the front seat that ‘I swerved a little, and crossed over.’”
GM found that when the system used beeps to alert the driver, over half of the drivers turned the system off. However, when the system used vibrations in the driver’s seat to alert the driver, about two-thirds of the drivers kept the system on.
Clearly, this safety feature cannot be effective if it is so irritating that most drivers disable it. Although, a new feature that is intended to determine the attention and competence of a driver behind the wheel is scheduled to be released in Europe by next year. This new feature will (hopefully) solve the problem that LDW systems have failed to fix.