Today’s vehicles are built with features that do more than make the general experience of driving safer, they can also help prevent a collision from happening altogether. Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) like Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) detect risk as it arises and respond accordingly to reduce the chance of an accident. Over the past few years, these features have become commonplace and as a result, drivers have begun to rely on them.
Unfortunately, as ADAS have become widespread, so has this big myth: If my vehicles have Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems, I can be less attentive while driving.
ADAS Aren’t Self-Sufficient
ADAS cannot replace the need for an attentive driver. As independent as a system may seem, it is still imperative for the vehicle operator to remain focused.
Most systems today fall between levels 1-3 of driving automation. This means at the highest level they can perform several driving tasks, however, they do not have the environmental detection capabilities, and cannot predict other vehicles’ behaviors, mandating human override is still required. Some examples of level 3 features include acceleration/deceleration, braking, and even controlling the steering.
Reading that, it may sound like the car has all the driving covered and you can just sit back and relax. But while these features make the experience of driving much easier and more comfortable, they cannot take full responsibility for operating the vehicle. Some systems like braking assist are designed purely for emergencies. They only engage if certain thresholds are met.
Furthermore, ADAS can be detrimentally affected by road conditions. Adverse weather, low light or faded reflective paint markings can limit a system’s ability to perform. ADAS assist drivers in so many ways but they have their limitations, which is why it’s so important that drivers remain engaged and ready to take over at any point.
The Importance of ADAS Calibration
ADAS rely on input from various sensors and modules to ensure proper functionality. The average system requires a combination of high-resolution cameras, radar, sonar, and/or lidar sensors. These sensors work together, communicating through a module to tell the vehicle how to react.
These components are extremely precise. Less than a degree of misalignment can drastically affect performance. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that when a camera sensor was intentionally misaligned by 0.4 degrees, it threw off the vehicle’s lane assistance monitoring by 6 inches on one side and 15 inches on the other.
So how do you know when a system is misaligned or broken? The truth is that a lot of the time you won’t. Some ADAS can detect an issue and respond by triggering a Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL) to alert the driver with a light on the dash. However, it’s also very common for no light to display due to two primary reasons:
- There isn’t a MIL for every potential system fault, so even if the system is aware of an issue there isn’t a path to alert the driver.
- If a sensor is out of calibration, out of alignment, has a damaged mounting bracket, or is mounted incorrectly, often times a MIL will not illuminate.
This is why ADAS calibration is so important. It is the only way to truly determine if the ADAS within a vehicle are functioning correctly.
When to Calibrate ADAS Sensors
Since we’re on the topic of myths, here’s another widespread misconception: ADAS only need to be calibrated if a collision has occurred. While it’s true that calibration could be needed following an accident, there are many more instances that can warrant calibration, such as:
- Wheel alignment change
- Change of suspension
- Windshield replacement
- Bumper replacement (make/model specific)
- Mirror replacement (make/model specific)
These are just a few instances of routine repairs that could spark the need for calibration. The bottom line is: anytime a sensor has been moved, removed, replaced or a part attached to a sensor has been removed, a calibration must take place to ensure all systems within the vehicle are functioning correctly.
Proper ADAS Maintenance
The primary responsibility of an automotive technician is to repair and maintain vehicles. Technicians have an obligation to return vehicles to their clients that can perform safely on the road. Unfortunately, many auto repair shops have not made ADAS repair and education a priority.
According to a Collison Crash Course (CCC) research report from 2019, calibrations are being performed on less than a third of claims that included a replaced sensor. Yet, experts recommend that calibration be performed anytime a sensor is replaced. This negligence is a detriment to road safety. When an ADAS isn’t functioning correctly the effects are dangerous. If a driver is not engaged enough to perceive this and correct it while driving, it could ultimately lead to an accident.
ADAS are developed to aid a driver in decision-making while on the road. The notion that their presence can replace some of a driver’s duties is a dangerous one and it’s simply not true. ADAS save lives. But it’s still necessary for drivers to educate themselves about their vehicle’s features and their limitations.
When it comes to ADAS, drivers are notoriously misinformed. Data from a study by AAA indicates that many motorists are unaware of key ADAS limitations. The research found that 33% of owners with vehicles that had Automatic Emergency Braking were unaware that the camera sensors utilized by the system could be blocked by dirt, ice, or snow.
Additionally, there are many misconceptions among drivers about the actual capabilities of their ADAS systems. Other research has found that 80 percent of drivers incorrectly believe blind-spot monitoring can monitor the road behind the vehicle.
Many motorists are unaware of ADAS limitations. This is concerning. Consider the previous scenarios: drivers believed their vehicles could perform in instances where they could not. It’s important to remember that today’s ADAS aren’t replacements for a human. Drivers must remain attentive on the road at all times.
Making The World A Safer Place To Drive
Thanks to ADAS, we’ve seen a 27% decrease in bodily injury claims and a 19% decrease in property damage. These systems are proven to reduce crashes related to human error, but they have to be used appropriately and properly maintained.
At Car ADAS, accuracy is our top priority. We know that when it comes to ADAS, small errors can have dangerous implications. Our calibrations prevent misalignment, verify ADAS functionality, and in the end – help make the world a safer place to drive. Contact Car ADAS to learn about opening your own ADAS calibration center.
Read more about the ADAS industry in our ADAS Blog.