As drivers grow accustomed to automation features like adaptive cruise control and lane-centering technology, they are more likely to engage in distracted driving patterns like briefly taking their hands off the wheel or letting their attention stray from the road.
In 2020, researchers from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology evaluated the driving behavior of 20 volunteers over a month, during which time these motorists became accustomed to advanced driving assistance features. One group of 10 volunteers drove a Range Rover that was equipped with adaptive cruise control that kept the vehicle at a speed selected by the driver, while another 10 volunteers drove Volvo S90s equipped with both adaptive cruise control and lane-centering technology.
A month into the study, the researchers noticed that the drivers’ focus began to lessen and that motorists were more likely to play with the car’s other electronics while driving. The researchers also found that the impact of the Volvo’s systems resulted in a greater decrease of the participant’s attention rather than the Range Rover.
The researchers concluded that drivers were more than twice as likely to show disengagement after a month of using Pilot Assist. Compared with driving manually, participants were also more than 12 times more likely to take both hands off the wheel after they grew accustomed to how lane-centering worked.
This study introduces some troubling realizations. For one, automated driving is not as safe as many people assume it is. Even the most nuanced technology can make mistakes, which is why drivers must make sure to remain in control of their vehicle at all times.
Systems similar to Volvo’s Pilot Assist are also available from Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, and Tesla. Automation in motor vehicles is classified based on a system developed by SAE International with a range from 0 (no automation) to 5 (fully self-driving). Level 1 systems help drivers with one driving task, like adaptive cruise control. Level 2 systems can help with two tasks. Currently, level 2 is the highest level of automation available in vehicles that are produced. At levels 3 and 4, vehicles can self-drive in most situations and can inform a human driver at times to take over.
Fortunately, data suggests that front crash prevention systems are beginning to reduce front-to-rear accidents. Some of these features include lane departure warnings and blind-spot detection. For example, in April 2010, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported in a study that insurance claims data involving various BMWs show that these systems are beginning to prevent crashes.
While driver assistance technology develops further each year, there will likely still be human drivers behind the wheels of cars in New York for decades to come. While all drivers should remain focused on safely operating their vehicle, not all of them do; and as studies show, driving automation increases distracted driving
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a car crash, you should not hesitate to speak with a compassionate personal injury lawyer in Long Island. Contact The Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe LLP today to schedule a free case evaluation.