Collision avoidance technology, like autonomous emergency braking, can be a major benefit on the street. But one BMW Car Club of America chapter believes it can be too oppressive for the track.
The Genessee Valley chapter of the BMW Car Club of America (BMWCCA) announced that it will no longer allow certain late-model Bimmers from participating in its High Performance Drivers' Education (HPDE) events. In a statement, the group claims that cars equipped with systems like autonomous emergency braking "may behave in unpredictable and undesirable ways on a racetrack."
"Because there is so much uncertainty about how these systems behave in a variety of conditions, GVC have decided to ban all vehicles equipped with Automatic Emergency Braking and/or Lane Keeping Assistance systems (or their equivalent) for use in our HPDE events," the statement continues.
The ban is limited to the Genessee Valley chapter. Other BMWCCA chapters are still permitting new BMWs at HPDE events, even though BMWCCA in general has a rather strict attitude towards on-track safety. The concern is that a system of this kind may brake or otherwise unsettle the car at the wrong time, which not only screws with driver education, it could potentially cause an accident on the track. It does not appear that this will become some massive trend, though, especially with BMW North America's opinion on the idea.
In a statement provided to Roadshow, BMW North America called GVC's policy "unauthorized," and claimed that BMWCCA's national office does not share the same concerns and will discuss the matter directly with the Genessee Valley chapter.
BMW also pointed out in its statement that many, if not all of the systems in question could be turned off manually, preventing them from activating during a track session. I have personally turned off many of these systems, albeit not in BMWs, during on-track filming to prevent issues between the car I'm in and the camera car.
While this may be limited to a single BMWCCA chapter for now, it could be a growing concern as more modern cars come equipped with these systems, not all of which are capable of being turned all the way off. If you intend on tracking your brand new car, this may be a question to bring up ahead of purchase. For the most part, it shouldn't be a problem.
BMW's full statement is below:
The Genesee Valley BMW Car Club of America (BMW CCA) Chapter created and published an unauthorized policy banning BMW's with Driver Aids from participating in High Performance Driver Education (HPDEs). The national BMW CCA office does not share their opinion and is discussing the issue with the chapter.
BMW of North America is working closely with the national BMW CCA office to educate and develop a nationwide procedure for including BMWs with Driver Aids in HPDEs. 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.
Systems like Automatic Emergency Braking Assist may be intrusive on-track but can be completely shut off by pressing and holding the Driver's Aids button on the center dash until the green light goes out. The system defaults to "ON" upon a re-start so this switch should be pressed at the beginning of each on-track run. The Driver's Aids Button also shuts down all the other driver aids that the car may be equipped with.