ORLANDO, Florida — AAA's new test of rear cross-traffic alert systems that are designed to enhance rear visibility found "significant system limitations." The safety systems add an average cost of $2,373 to a 2015 vehicle.
The tested systems "failed to detect pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcycles and other vehicles at alarming rates," AAA said in a statement.
The limitations typically exist when vehicles equipped with the systems are parked between larger vehicles, such as SUVs or minivans.
"AAA's independent testing showed that rear cross-traffic alert systems failed to work effectively in several test vehicles," said Megan McKernan, manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California's Automotive Research Center. "It's critical that drivers reverse slowly and use this technology as an aid to, not a substitute for, safe driving."
Such systems are designed to alert drivers to traffic passing behind a reversing vehicle. They often cost extra or are included as standard equipment on higher trim levels.
The technology failed to detect pedestrians 60 percent of the time, according to AAA. Passing motorcycles were not detected in 48 percent of the tests, while passing vehicles went undetected 30 percent of the time.
The systems are available on 38 percent of 2015 model-year vehicles.
Technology packages that include this feature range in price from $600 to more than $9,000, AAA said.
For example, the 2016 Hyundai Sonata midsize sedan includes rear cross-traffic alert as part of a $3,750 SE premium package that bundles a long list of items.
Rear cross-traffic alert is included as part of the blind-spot monitoring system on high-end versions of the 2016 Volkswagen Passat midsize sedan.
Edmunds says: AAA says Americans should rely more on driving skills than technology, something that car shoppers may want to keep in mind as they consider the benefits of these new systems.