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HomeNewsAAA reports Rear Cross Traffic Alerts Fail to Detect Majority of Pedestrians

AAA reports Rear Cross Traffic Alerts Fail to Detect Majority of Pedestrians

AAAKnoxville, TN – With the holiday season in full swing motorists are certain to experience distracted drivers in crowed parking lots. Drivers and pedestrians navigating through the parking lot can pose a safety risk. Rear cross traffic alert (RCTA) systems on vehicles are used to help motorists avoid these type of accidents.

However, AAA warns drivers not to solely rely on this technology to prevent crashes.

New AAA survey reveals limitations with Rear cross traffic alert (RCTA) Technology.
New AAA survey reveals limitations with Rear cross traffic alert (RCTA) Technology.

In partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, AAA tested rear cross traffic alert systems, designed to alert drivers to traffic passing behind a reversing vehicle, and found significant system limitations exist when parked between larger vehicles, such as SUVs or minivans.

In this common parking lot scenario, the tested systems failed to detect pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcycles and other vehicles at alarming rates.


  • A passing motorcycle was not detected by the systems in nearly half (48%) of tests.
  • The systems failed to detect a bicycle passing behind the vehicle two in five times.
  • The systems failed to detect a passing vehicle three in ten times.

While not all systems are designed to detect pedestrians, the technology failed to detect pedestrians the majority (60%) of the time.

RCTA systems fail to detect 3 in 5 pedestrians.
RCTA systems fail to detect 3 in 5 pedestrians.

“Motorists should always physically check behind their vehicle before backing out of a parking space because there maybe objects the sensors did not detect,” said Don Lindsey, TN Public Affairs Director, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “It’s important to keep in mind that RCTA systems only work when a motorist is backing straight out of a parking space. They system does not work if you are parked at an angle.”

AAA offers the following recommendations

  • If car shopping, a vehicle equipped with RCTA system may boost rear visibility, but should not be relied on to prevent crashes.
  • Even if your vehicle is equipped with RCTA system, always reverse slowly, turning and checking blind spots to verify that a vehicle, bicyclist or pedestrian is not approaching the vehicle.
  • Owners of a vehicle equipped with RCTA system should understand system limitations before using the feature. In AAA’s testing, system accuracy varied widely among vehicles.
  • Whenever possible, reverse into a parking space. Driving forward out of parking space increases driver visibility and lessens the likelihood of a crash.
  • Consumers should inquire about the cost of RCTA systems, two in five 2015 model year vehicles will have this technology. Packages that include this feature range in price from $600 to more than $9,000. The average cost for this feature on 2015 model year vehicles is approximately $2,373.

“RCTA systems were designed to improve safety features in vehicles,” said Lindsey. “In order for the technology to work properly motorists knowledge of the operating system is Key.”

Previous AAA testing of rear-view camera systems, required on all new vehicles by 2018, revealed significant consumer benefits including increased visibility of the rear blind zone by an average of 46 percent. However, it’s important to note that no system shows 100 percent of the space behind a vehicle and that rain, snow or slush can impede camera visibility.

About The Auto Club Group

The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, travel, insurance and financial services offerings to over 9 million members across eleven states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana.

ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 55 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.


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