A Tairua man wants to warn others after new technology on his new vehicle caught him off guard as he tried to pass a cyclist.

Paul Goodwin was driving along State Highway 25 between Tairua and Hikuai when he tried to move across the centre line to make room for the cyclist in front of him.

But Goodwin didn't realise the lane assist button on his Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2016 was on and instead said he ended up fighting with his steering wheel to avoid hitting the cyclist.

Ford and AA said the technology was made for safety and to stop drivers having head-on crashes and could be easily over powered by "pushing through it". It could also be disabled through the dash board.


Goodwin said it took him by surprise.

The lane assist button on his Ford Ranger is at the end of the indicator stick so he said it was easy to turn on by mistake.

"You are actually fighting the ute to get into lane and you don't actually click and think I've accidentally hit this little button . . . ," Goodwin said.

"When you get close to the centre line, the ute pushes you across. When I'm going to pass a cyclist I've gone over the centre line and the ute has taken control and pushed me back and I nearly hit the cyclist.

He said he eventually slammed on the brakes and fought the vehicle to narrowly avoid the cyclist.

The aim of the lane assist function is to keep vehicles within their lane and not crossing the line.

"If I'd hit that cyclist who would be to blame because at that stage I wasn't in control of my ute"

Ford communication manager Tom Clancy said he could see how it would take people by surprise if they weren't aware of it, but the function just "nudged" people back into the correct lane and could be overridden.

"On the [car] lot everything is set by default . . . The steering just goes a little bit stiffer and you steer through it."

The function was also inactive when the indicator was on.

Clancy said because the new vehicles were packed with a range of new safety technologies there was a lot to take in when people first bought one. He recommended owners took the car back to the dealer two weeks later to learn the ins and outs.

AA motoring services general manager Stella Stocks said auto or lane assist functions were become increasingly common in new vehicles and were aimed to assist and keep drivers in their lane.

"But it is an assist it doesn't take over the vehicle. In the situation where a vehicle is trying to correct itself, it won't over correct so if you are travelling in a straight line and you deviate to the right, it won't lurch you to left, it will just move you back to where you were originally in the straight line."

She said the steering wheel would probably feel heavier as the driver tried to fight against the new technology, but it wouldn't take over the steering.

The auto assist function was in different places depending on the make and model.

"It's a good technology, but you've got to be aware of it too."

The AA had not received any complaints about the function and always advised members to buy the safest vehicle they could afford with the most safety technologies on them which would include the auto assist function.

Motor Vehicle Industry Association chief executive David Crawford said there were two types of lane assist functions and one assisted the steering and the other had a beep warning system.

Although all models were different, it was his understanding that even the one that will steer for the driver could be overridden.

But Dog & Lemon Guide car review website editor Clive Matthew-Wilson said under the law the driver of a vehicle is generally presumed to be in control so in theory the driver of that Ranger could have been prosecuted if an accident had occurred.

However, he said more vehicles were being fitted with safety technology that could take over vehicles.

"It's pretty clear that there will soon be a major court case soon over this issue, and I suspect the courts will decide that sometimes, the driver can't be always held responsible for what the vehicle does."