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For the most part, crash avoidance and driver assistance technology is a welcome addition to the automotive landscape. While they can be a little invasive sometimes, they’re usually doing what they’re supposed to and helping to save the lives of drivers who may have had a momentary lapse in judgment or focus. However, there is a lot of worry over how lane assistance or emergency braking software will behave when you bring a streetcar to the track.
Several chapters of the BMW Car Club of America and the Porsche Club of America have already decided to forbid any vehicle equipped with aids. The fear is that track day organizers or instructors could be found liable if a car suddenly jerks right when it approaches the apex of a corner or suddenly decelerate when in close proximity to other vehicles. A driver might be caught off-guard if a car unexpectedly takes over and be unsure how to mitigate inputs they were unprepared for.
The bottom line is that newer cars are finding themselves in danger of being banned wholesale, and that’s just not going to work if track days are to continue in the years to come.
The BMW Car Club seems to be aware of this. After the earlier ban, the Genesee Valley chapter in New York has revised its decision and now wants assist-equipped vehicles marked for an additional safety check that would ensure those systems have been deactivated. “Because [crash avoidance systems] become active automatically at vehicle startup, it will be incumbent upon drivers to ensure they manually shut down their systems before proceeding onto the track,” the chapter’s chief driving instructor explained in a letter to Jalopnik. “Instructors and pit-out marshals will verify that the systems are indeed shut down before allowing your car on track. Cars will be required to display a special sticker on the windshield if these systems are installed, so that pit marshals can easily identify them and verify that the systems have been shut down prior to release into pit lane.”
Of course, this is just one chapter. The BMWCCA’s overall stance is a little different and has been working with BMW of North America to address the issue. In an earlier discussion with Road & Track the automaker made it clear that, while driving aids can be disabled, “Most advanced driver aids like lane departure warning and blind spot detection do not affect the ability of the driver to control the car on-track at high speed. In addition, the systems can be shut off so that they are also not a distraction to a student.”
Meanwhile, BMWCCA’s national driving events chairman Jack Joyner has suggested this is much ado about nothing. “As I understand it, these systems can be turned off, and that might be all we need,” he said. “If I have heard correctly, people were freaking out over ABS when it was introduced too. I would ask the newer car owners not to panic, as we will be having a call or two on this subject over the next few days.”
This article first appeared on thetruthaboutcars.com