“This new research reveals that drivers who are experienced in using these systems tend to become complacent which can lead to more distracted behavior behind the wheel which puts themselves and others as risk,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas spokesperson. “ADAS aims to improve the driving experience, but it’s not fool-proof and there still is no substitute for an alert, engaged driver.”
Researchers at the AAA Foundation collaborated with Virginia Tech Transportation Institute to analyze video of on-road behaviors for two groups of drivers using advanced driver assistance technology. Individuals in one group owned a vehicle equipped with ADAS and had more experience using the systems while drivers in the other group were given a vehicle equipped with ADAS to use during the 4-week study period and had less experience with the technology.
The research found that drivers who owned their vehicles – and therefore had more familiarity with ADAS technology — were more likely to drive distracted when these systems were active than when they were not. For example, some observed distracted driving behaviors included texting or adjusting the radio. Meanwhile, drivers with less experience using the technologies were more likely to remain attentive and engaged while the systems were engaged.
Virginia Tech researchers theorize that drivers move through different phases tied to experience using ADAS. First timers start in a novelty phase where they learn and test the technology. These drivers are less inclined to trust the system’s function and reliability, so they remain active and engaged while driving. Eventually, drivers reach an experienced user phase where overreliance and too much trust in the systems becomes more common. These drivers are more apt to take their eyes and attention away from the road. Research in other industries shows that pilots and nuclear technicians demonstrate similar patterns of over-reliance on automated systems. These behaviors can eventually lead to distraction.
AAA offers three simple steps for how to ACE your next vehicle rental or purchase:
- Always remain active and engaged when using ADAS technologies like lane-keep assist or adaptive cruise control.
- Commit to knowing what ADAS technologies are installed on your vehicle and how they work.
- Expect that the advanced driver assistance technologies in your vehicle have limitations.