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The effects of advanced driver assistance systems on a driver’s focus

Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) may create safer roads, but some researchers worry that drivers may become too reliant on the technology and engage in inattentive driving. Various studies nationwide analyze how drivers behave when using vehicles with ADAS, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

These studies have taken various forms. Some have researchers directly observing drivers in the vehicles with ADAS that they already own. Others, specifically the Mixed Function Automation (MFA), provide “study cars” to research participants over the course of a month.

Differences between the two studies

The critical difference between the two studies is that drivers have a higher comfort level with their own cars. As the novelty of ADAS wears off, drivers tend to be more trusting of the automation features and take their eyes off the road. Conversely, the MFA study participants leased a vehicle that typically involves more in-depth training on the cars’ operation.

Findings of the two studies

Forbes explains that automakers may oversell the technology. When drivers expect safety, they place a great deal of trust that the system will not fail. Study participants who were observed were 50 percent more likely to engage in a secondary task if the car had adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance. Both systems functioning in the vehicle made them more likely to look away from the road for more extended periods of time. Conversely, the MFA study found that drivers acted with more caution and attentiveness.

In the end, automated technology is only as effective as the person behind the wheel. ADAS can provide a higher level of safety, but only in conjunction with an attentive and proactive driver.