Auto Safety Technology People Disable The Most

Cadillac safety technology
Cadillac Super Cruise driver assist technology. Credit: Cadillac.
We are big proponents of driver assist features here at the Car Pro and Car Pro Show Host Jerry Reynolds has even given us a rundown of his favorite driver-assist features. Overall, driver assistance features are proven to reduce accidents and keep us all safer on the road. But not everyone is crazy about them and, in fact, some people disable some features they find annoying according to a new survey by Erie Insurance.

The study -- limited to car model years 2016 and later - looks at which features drivers say they disable the most and why. It asked drivers of those vehicles if they had ever turned off or disabled any of 11 features commonly available in newer vehicles.

“Drivers said their most common reasons for turning off or disabling features is that they find them annoying or distracting,” said Jon Bloom, vice president of personal auto, Erie Insurance. Bloom said while automakers are always working to refine and improve features, there also may be cases when it’s more a matter of learning how the feature works and getting used to it. “Ideally as features improve and drivers get more comfortable with them, using them will become second-nature the way seatbelts are today. The payoff could be huge in terms of reducing crashes and saving lives.”

Citing crash data from the Insurance of Highway Safety and The Highway Loss Data Institute, Erie Insurance says some newer car features are dramatically decreasing crashes. IIHS and HLDI found that forward collision warning combined with automated emergency braking cuts front-to-rear crashes with injuries by more than half (56%). However, Erie Insurance’s survey found that, of the drivers whose vehicles have these features, 11% turn off forward collision warning and 17% turn off automated emergency braking.

The features getting the least amount of use, according to the survey? The first is adaptive cruise control which sets and adjusts your speed according to the vehicle ahead of you. In the study, the largest percentage of drivers (30%) said they hadn’t used it. The most cited reason for not using this feature was “I want to control the vehicle, not have the vehicle control itself.”

The second most disabled feature was lane keeping assist, designed to help keep your car in its lane by making light braking or minor steering adjustments. Almost a quarter of drivers (23%) said they turned off lane keeping assist because it was annoying. One respondent said the feature doesn’t work well [because] it hugs the lines too closely and another said it reduces the car’s fuel economy.

Here’s a full list of the features, provided by Erie Insurance, that ranks the most annoying features in terms of the percentage of people who said they had turned off or disabled it.

Feature % Who Have Turned It Off/Disabled It In Addition to Annoying and/or Distracting, Other Reason(s) for Turning It Off/Disabling It
Adaptive cruise control 30% I want to control the vehicle, not have the vehicle control itself
Lane keeping assist 23% I want to control the vehicle, not have the vehicle control itself
It is not helpful
Driver attention monitor 22% It sends too many false alarms
Lane departure warning 21% It is not helpful
It sends too many false alarms
Automated emergency braking 17% I don't trust it
I want to control the vehicle, not have the vehicle control itself
Traffic sign recognition 14% It is not helpful
I had a bad experience with it
Forward collision warning 11% It sends too many false alarms
Pedestrian detection 11% It is not helpful
I want to control the vehicle, not have the vehicle control itself
Blind-spot monitoring 9% I want to control the vehicle, not have the vehicle control itself
It is not helpful
I don't trust it
Rear cross traffic alert 9% It is not helpful
I don’t trust it
It sends too many false alarms
Backup camera 6% I had a bad experience with it
I don't trust it

Study participants were also asked whether they would want each feature if they were buying another vehicle today. Adaptive cruise control was the least popular feature by far, with more than a third of drivers (35%) saying they definitely would not want it. The percentages of drivers who definitely wouldn’t want any of the other 10 features were all in the single digits.

We also always recommend learning about your car’s new technology features at the dealership. Fortunately in the study, many did that. In terms of how they learned to use the features in their vehicles, the study found that the largest percentage (38%) learned at the car dealership, a third (32%) figured it out while driving and 14% learned by reading the owner’s manual. Seventeen percent of the 18-24-year-olds learned at a driving school and smaller percentages read about it or watched videos online or learned from a friend or family member.
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More people would love the Adaptive Cruise Control if they used it and got used to it. I use mine all the time. In fact, I frequently use ACC in town to help obey speed limits (especially school zones) now that ACC engages at 20 MPH. Love it.

Lane assist would probably be great, except too many of the lane stripes are warn off of roads or too damaged to be used by the system. Also, the "nudge" can be startling when it nudges while you are fully alert and maneuvering in a planned manner (driving around a pothole).
Steve Mahan
As always, a good read from Jerry :-)

One item that people may turn off (if they knew what the problem was) is the hill hold feature on some vehicles. The feature may have some benefits (like if you use the awful engine auto-start/stop feature), but the hill hold feature can make pulling in an uphill area up to another car (or in my case my 10 year old niece) downright scary. It will apply the brakes while you are trying to get moving forward maybe another 2 or 3 feet. The result is this herky-jerky task where you have to apply way more throttle than needed (in a limited area) to get the brakes to release. Once the "safety feature releases, you end up having to jump off the gas and stab the brakes because you had way too much gas applied as the vehicle lurches forward. Repeat process until you are where you need to be (I elected to move my niece out of the area to park in a situation that would normally have had a decent amount of safety). The old (smooth and safer) way of manually applying the brake and gas together to close up an uphill gap was restored as soon as I disabled this feature.

The hill hold feature also make driving onto service ramps (to change oil, etc) a scary experience - the feature holds the front brakes enough to force the ramps to just slide along up the driveway. Again you have to apply too much power to cancel them out, but by then you have just launched your wife's car over the end of the ramp. And by then everyone will be convinced that you have the driving skills of a 14 year old...
The Car Pro
Steve, thanks for the feedback, that is helpful. Living in flat Texas, I seldom get a chance to experience the feature. Your observations are helpful for sure.

Thanks for being part of the family.

Jerry Reynolds
Jeff Bullen
I'm curious why they didn't include hill hold or the feature that I have to believe is turned off the most, auto-start/stop. Any survey that fails to include the obvious is incomplete.