New study says modern safety tech makes for complacent drivers
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Drivers who use modern safety features such as active cruise control may be more likely to become complacent behind the wheel.
Research by the American Automobile Association’s Foundation for Traffic Safety suggests drivers familiar with assistance systems relied too much on features that can help steer or stop cars. The AAA says drivers who regularly use the features were nearly twice as likely “to engage in distracted driving while using the systems compared to when they were driving without the systems”.
It found drivers unaccustomed to active safety features were less likely to be distracted when the systems were active.
Dr David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, says drivers must remain active and engaged behind the wheel.
“This new research suggests that as drivers gain more experience using ADAS technology, they could develop complacency while behind the wheel,” he says.
“Over-reliance on these systems can put drivers and others in dangerous conditions during critical moments.”
The research team filmed drivers who owned cars with advanced features, such as Tesla’s Autopilot or Subaru’s EyeSight suites, as well as people who borrowed cars with advanced tech.
It found people familiar with advanced driver aids were more likely to text while driving or engage with their car’s entertainment screen. Dr William Van Tassel, AAA manager of driver training programs, says over-reliance on automated systems was commonplace in some industries, and that drivers need to be careful not to fall into the same pattern.
“Advanced driver assistance technologies have a lot to offer in terms of comfort and safety, but they should never replace an attentive and engaged driver,” he says.
“Remember, technology fails us daily while at work and at home. So, don’t get caught driving distracted when being focused on the road can save your life.”