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Being Too Comfortable Using Partial Automation Can Encourage Drivers To Lose Focus

A new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that as drivers get more used to … [+] partially automated technologies, they lose focus.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

As drivers get more familiar with and develop trust in partial automation, they fidget with electronics and take both hands off the wheel more often. As a result, their attention problems grow and their focus slips. 

Those are the highlights of a new study that examined driver engagement behind the wheel of vehicles with various levels of automation and technology and underscored the need for better safety standards.

The findings were released on Thursday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit financed by the insurance industry, based on new research conducted in conjunction with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab.

For the study, researchers studied the behavior of drivers of two vehicle models to determine if there were differences between stand-alone adaptive cruise control (ACC) and the combination of ACC and lane centering.

One test vehicle (a Land Rover Range Rover Evoque) was equipped only with ACC, which automatically keeps the vehicle traveling at a speed chosen by the driver while maintaining a pre-established following distance. The other (a Volvo S90) was outfitted with a level 2 partially automated system that combines ACC with active lane keeping, a technology that keeps the vehicle positioned laterally in the travel lane.


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