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ADAS Aware: IIHS study shows used vehicle safety systems go underutilized

Toronto, Ontario — Vehicles these days are full of sensors and safety features, but as these vehicles change hands from owner-to-owner, the specific functions of some of these systems can get lost to a game of broken telephone, according to a recent study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The latest research from the IIHS indicates that proper knowledge of internal safety systems tends to slip when a vehicle meets its second owner.

“Used car buyers were substantially less likely than new car buyers to know about the advanced driver assistance features present on their vehicles,” said IIHS senior research scientist and author of the study Ian Reagan.

“They were also less likely to be able to describe how those features work, and they had less trust in them. That could translate into less frequent use, causing crash reductions from these systems to wane.”

The report found that 84 percent of new car buyers knew their vehicle was equipped with blind spot warning, compared with only 72 percent of used car buyers. Similarly, 77 percent of new car buyers could accurately describe what lane departure warning does, compared with 66 percent of used car buyers.

It was found that new vehicle buyers place a higher level of trust in their vehicle’s safety systems than used buyers, which the IIHS attributes to the fact that 95 percent of new car buyers bought their vehicle from a dealership specializing in the brand they purchased, compared with 74 percent of used car buyers.

“Both sets of buyers said they received a good introduction to their vehicle’s features when they purchased it,” said Reagan.

“But the buyers of new vehicles were more likely to say that the salesperson discussed details like how to adjust the features’ settings or the situations in which ACC might be useful.”

Overall, the report found that a driver’s awareness of the systems their vehicle contains does not equate to knowledge about their function. The study found that only about two-thirds of new car buyers could accurately describe what Adaptive Cruise Control does.

“There’s a real opportunity here to think beyond the old paradigm of showroom and owner’s manual,” said Reagan.

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