A new study conducted by insurance agency State Farm indicates that drivers who have vehicle with semi-autonomous safety systems are likely to engage in risky behaviour behind the wheel.
According to the study, 62 percent of drivers with lane-keep assist or adaptive cruise control in their vehicles will read and/or send text messages while driving, compared to just 49 percent without those technologies.
Furthermore, 42 percent of drivers with lane keep assist tech will video chat while driving, compared to 20 percent without it. Video chatting in cars with adaptive cruise control was similarly as common, with 39 percent of drivers with the tech reporting doing so while driving, compared to just 19 percent without.
The results of the study indicate that drivers who have advanced semi-autonomous safety systems such as these have more confidence that engaging in risky driving behaviours will not result in crash.
“Innovations such as Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keeping Assist are designed to make our roadways safer,” said State Farm enterprise research Assistant Vice President Laurel Straub. “These systems are meant to assist drivers, not replace them.”
While studies from safety advocate groups like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicate that semi-autonomous safety systems can reduce the frequency of crashes, it is also acknowledged that there is a delicate balance between safety and driver engagement.
“Designers are struggling with trade-offs inherent in automated assistance,” David Zuby, IIHS chief research officer, said in 2018. “If they limit functionality to keep drivers engaged, they risk a backlash that the systems are too rudimentary. If the systems seem too capable, then drivers may not give them the attention required to use them safely.”
Semi autonomous safety systems are becoming commonplace on new vehicles, with many automakers offering tech like lane keep assist and automatic emergency braking as standard. With the expansion of such technology inevitable, it will be up to safety watchdog groups and automakers to ensure drivers are educated on the limitations of the systems.