Would you trust your car to park itself?


Would you trust a car that parallel parks itself without you touching the steering wheel? A new survey by AAA shows that 72 percent of those asked would not trust such technology even though it's now available in several models, mostly from luxury brands.

However, parking tests show that such suspicions are likely misplaced. AAA found the self-parking systems parked 10 percent faster than human drivers and with fewer than half the maneuvers.

"Autonomous features, such as active park assist, are rapidly being introduced into new vehicles, yet American drivers are hesitant to let go of the wheel," said John Nielsen, AAA managing director of automotive engineering and repair. "But AAA found these features performed well in tests and warrant consideration of buyers."

AAA tested 2015 models equipped with park assist. The cars included a Lincoln MKC, a Mercedes-Benz ML400, a Cadillac CTS-V Sport, a BMW i3 and a Jeep Cherokee Limited. The technology steers the car into a parking space with the driver only needing to control the accelerator and brakes. The vehicle uses cameras and ultrasonic sensors to determine its position, including whether the car will fit into a given space.

In the AAA tests, four drivers parked each car five times without parking assist and five times with the system. The results:

  • The automatic systems hit the curb 81 percent fewer times than did the human drivers.
  • The technology used 47 percent fewer maneuvers to park, sometimes parallel parking in just one move.
  • The automated systems parked 37 percent closer to the curb than human drivers.

The AAA report noted that parking assist could be especially useful for elderly drivers, who may have trouble twisting their body as needed during normal parking maneuvers.

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    Jerry Edgerton, author of Car Shopping Made Easy, has been covering the car beat since Detroit companies dominated the U.S. market. The former car columnist for Money magazine and Washington correspondent for Business Week, Edgerton specializes in finding the best deals on wheels and offering advice on making your car last.