The Limits of Auto Safety Tech: How Bad Weather Challenges Modern Cars

by AutoExpert   |  4 April, 2024

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You know all those fancy safety systems in new cars? The ones that slam on the brakes for you or warn you if you're drifting lanes? Yeah, turns out they're not so smart in bad weather. AAA just did some tests, and it ain't pretty.

See, these systems aren't magic. They rely on cameras (like, ones mounted near your rearview mirror) and radar sensors hidden in the bumpers. Radar? Works fine in rain or fog, no prob. But it can't really see stuff like lane markings. That's where the cameras come in. Problem is, cameras kinda suck if it's raining hard or super dark out.

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AAA Put Car Tech to the Test

They made it rain – fake rain on a test track – and checked out how some popular SUVs handled it. Automatic emergency braking (the kind that stops you from hitting stuff) actually failed a decent amount of time. At 35 mph, a third of the tests ended with the car straight-up crashing. Radar tried its best, but without the camera "seeing" clearly, it's tough.

Even worse was the lane-keeping stuff. Those cars? Swerving all over the place! Nearly 70% of the time, they couldn't even stay in their lane. Of course, if YOU can barely see the lines through the downpour, how could your car?

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Fun Fact: They also slapped bug guts all over windshields to see if that messed things up. Surprisingly, the cameras weren't too bothered. But still, common sense here – if your windshield's a mess, neither you nor your car can see properly!

The Takeaway

This doesn't mean the tech is useless. It definitely helps a bunch! But some people think these systems mean they can zone out while driving. Bad idea. We've seen this in past tests too – confusing roads, night driving... it all throws things off. Your brain is still the best safety system onboard.

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Oh, and about the future: There's this thing called LiDAR, kinda like laser-radar, and some fancy new cars are gonna have that. Maybe it'll be better in bad weather – we'll have to wait and see!

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