In my line of work as an advanced driving instructor, I have had the opportunity to sample and demonstrate Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) for many brands. Having had a taste of these systems, I am glad that more and more carmakers are taking the effort to constantly improve road safety and increase driver comfort in their product offerings.
ADAS features such as Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) is immensely useful in avoiding or mitigating a collision if the driver fails to do so (for whatever reason). Meanwhile, Adaptive Cruise Control provides a more comfortable journey for the driver on long drives, or even in traffic jams.
Some ADAS systems can even monitor your attention levels and prompt you accordingly, or warn you when you have veered onto another lane unknowingly. So much so, ADAS is now taken into consideration in ANCAP safety ratings.
I have always wondered, though, would ADAS give its users a false sense of security. I’m afraid that seems to be the sentiment. Yes, there will be pitchforks coming my way, but hear me out.
In my observation of car buyers’ habits, it’s becoming increasingly prevalent to hear this complaint, “Oh, this model has no ADAS? Well, that’s a dealbreaker.” Look, it’s all good to have such systems in a new car, but to the point it swings a buying decision, smacks of folly.
One, you might miss out on a great car simply because it doesn’t have ADAS. Two, ADAS isn’t the be all and end all when making a buying decision. To me, the non-negotiables are stability systems, ISOFIX anchors and airbags. ADAS, is a luxury. Great to have, not a must.
Furthermore, in some situations, drivers can potentially abuse ADAS and slack off on the road. Already I see plenty of drivers practising hands-free driving. Where are their hands? Texting on the phone. ADAS will only serve to compound this problem.
But, let me make this clear, the problem is not ADAS, its Malaysian drivers’ attitudes that is. How can we expect ADAS not to be abused when we, as a country, cannot even do fundamental things like indicate, or wear our seatbelts?
The point I’m trying to drive (pun intended) home is, the control of a car ultimately lies with its driver. ADAS is merely an assistant, to bail you out in unforeseen circumstances. You are the person driving, you are the one who has the driving license, not ADAS. It is your prerogative to ensure you drive safely and responsibly.
Furthermore, ADAS has its limits too, and people need to understand this. The cameras and radars employed by ADAS systems are not always 100% accurate and have reduced function in severe weather conditions. Should you blame ADAS if you had a collision? Absolutely not.
For me, you can buy the safest car in the world that meets every single safety criterion, it all means nought if the driver behind the wheel is reckless. The buck stops with you, the driver, and that should always be the case.