Drivers who regularly use advanced driver assistance systems are nearly two times more likely to text, fiddle with the radio, or engage in other distracted driving behaviors, according to a new study from the AAA Foundation.
The study concludes that the more comfortable motorists are with systems such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist, the more likely they are to become complacent or disengaged drivers.
Specifically, the data showed that the simultaneous use of adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist was associated with a 50% increases in the odds of engaging in any form or secondary task and an 80% increase in the chances of engaging in visual and/or manual secondary tasks.
Conversely, the researchers found that drivers with less experience and familiarity using the technology were less likely to engage in distracted driving behaviors when the systems were activated compared to when systems were not in use. Those with less experience using the technologies were more likely to remain attentive to the driving task while the systems were engaged.
The key takeaway from the new study is that over-reliance on ADAS technology can put drivers and other roadway users in dangerous conditions during critical moments.
The study authors theorize that drivers move through different phases of ADAS experience, which in turn, has an impact on their confidence or trust levels. First time users are in the "novelty phase," where they are skeptical and less inclined to trust the system's reliability. Eventually, drivers reach an "experienced user phase" where overreliance on the systems can lead them 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.
The AAA Foundation conducted the research in conjunction with Virginia Tech researchers.