Buick Lucerne drivers’ experiences with rear parking sensors

Cicchino, Jessica B. / Eichelberger, Angela H. / McCartt, Anne T.
Traffic Injury Prevention (TIP)
February 2015

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. This study examined owners’ experiences with Buick Lucerne models with a rear parking sensor system.
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% older than 60 and 70% older than 70. Nearly all owners reported that they always leave the system on, do not find it distracting, and would want it on 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). In addition to an audible alert, systems on 2010 models provide information on the distance to rear objects via lights located near the rear windshield; 26% of owners with these systems reported never seeing the lights illuminate while backing up, and the percentage increased with age.
Conclusions: Acceptance of the system 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 warning 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.