Motorists who use advanced driver assistance programs (ADAS) are twice as likely to become distracted while driving compared to those whose vehicles lack the technology, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
The Foundation, which conducted a monthlong study, says carmakers design the systems to make driving easier and safer, but they are actually putting drivers more at risk by lulling them into a false sense of security.
The study focused on two safety systems
AAA says the results illustrate the challenges faced by the auto industry as it pursues its slow evolution from traditional vehicles to self-driving cars. The research focused on these two systems:
- Adaptive cruise control: This tool automatically increases or reduces a car’s speed to maintain a safe distance between vehicles.
- Lane-keeping assist: Helps drivers avoid wandering out of their lanes by gently pulling on the steering wheel if the car starts to drift.
Researchers find alarming results
The AAA study focused on the behaviors of two groups of drivers – the first owned cars that were equipped with ADAS equipment. Drivers in the second group were given vehicles with the systems to use for a month.
Researchers found those who owned their vehicles with the technology were twice as likely to drive distracted when the systems were in use. However, drivers with less experience with ADAS devices were more likely to be focused on their driving even while the systems were engaged.
Results show the need for enhanced ADAS education
AAA says the findings don’t mean that these systems present any danger by themselves. Instead, researchers say they demonstrate that the auto industry needs to do a better job of educating drivers about the proper use and limitations of ADAS, which are incapable of making intelligent decisions on their own.