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Buick Lucerne drivers’ experiences with Ultrasonic Rear Parking Assist

Cicchino, Jessica B.; Eichelberger, Angela H.; McCartt, Anne T.
Traffic Injury Prevention
In press

Objective: Rear parking sensors may have the potential to reduce property damage caused by some low-speed backing crashes, but their effectiveness depends on drivers’ acceptance and proper use. It is of interest to monitor older drivers’ experiences with new collision avoidance technologies, given that they may benefit from the technologies but are more likely to have age-related limitations that can affect their use of the systems. This study examined owners’ experiences of Buick Lucerne models with Ultrasonic Rear Parking Assist systems.
Methods: Mail surveys were conducted in May 2013 with 426 owners of model year 2010-11 Buick Lucerne sedans equipped with the optional Ultrasonic Rear Parking Assist feature.
Results: Respondents were primarily older drivers, with 95 percent older than 60 and 70 percent older than 70. Nearly all owners reported they always leave the system on, do not find it distracting, and would want it in their next vehicle. Slightly more than half (56%) said they had heard an alert and noticed something behind their vehicle they did not expect, which most commonly was a person or animal. Owners who said their behavior had changed while using the system mostly reported positive changes (e.g., increased alertness or confidence). Systems on model year 2010 vehicles provide information on the distance to rear objects via lights located near the rear windshield, in addition to an audible alert; 26 percent of owners whose systems included lights reported never seeing the lights illuminate while backing up, and the percentage increased with age.
Conclusions: Acceptance of Ultrasonic Rear Parking Assist was high, which is consistent with prior research on early adopters of rear parking sensors. Few owners reported problems using the system, and most problems were likely not attributed to age-related impairments, with the exception of those who did not see the 2010 model’s lights. Use and acceptance of collision avoidance technologies should continue to be assessed among drivers of all ages as the systems become more widely available.