The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says drivers using new technology designed to increase safety on highways are twice as likely to become distracted as opposed to when they weren’t using the systems.

The research also concludes that drivers with less familiarity and experience using driver assistance technology were less likely to be distracted when it was in use.

The study focused on drivers using two systems

While technology can make people safer, researchers find that many drivers put too much trust in the systems. In this project, the study examined two types of technologies:

  • Adaptive cruise control: ACC helps drivers maintain a safe distance between cars by automatically slowing or accelerating vehicles through the use of radar, lasers or in-vehicle cameras.
  • Lane-keeping assist: LKA helps drivers stay within the traffic lane by gently nudging the wheel if the vehicle starts to drift.

Research followed the actions of two types of drivers

The AAA Foundation teamed with researchers at Virginia Tech to analyze the on-road behaviors for two groups – one where drivers owned vehicles already equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). Drivers in the other group with less experience using the systems were given cars equipped with ADAS to drive during a four-week period.

The results show drivers who were more familiar with ADAS were more likely to be distracted when the systems were activated, with some texting or adjusting GPS and other controls. Drivers with less experience with ADAS were more likely to keep their attention focused on the road while the systems were active.

Recommendations for using ADAS-equipped vehicles

The AAA Foundation says advanced driver assistance technologies have much to offer to keep us safe on the road. However, drivers must understand these systems do not replace the need to pay attention when they are behind the wheel.

When you buy or rent a new car, AAA recommends always being active and engaged while using these devices, commit to learning how to use the technology correctly and expect that these systems will have some limitations.