While greater automation and new vehicle technologies are often cited as providing improved safety and comfort for passengers, those technological tools can still be misused. This is evidenced by a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which states that drivers often speed when using adaptive cruise control (ACC).
In a recent study, the IIHS analyzed the driving habits of 40 drivers from the Boston metro area over a four-week period, using data collected by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Advanced Vehicle Technology Consortium. Drivers were provided with a 2016 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque with ACC, or a 2017 Volvo S90 with ACC and Pilot Assist, the latter of which is partially automated and includes a lane-centering feature.
According to study, “drivers are substantially more likely to speed when using ACC or partial automation that combines that feature with lane centering than when not using either technology,” with a 24-percent increased likelihood of driving over the speed limit on limited-access highways with the ACC systems active. What’s more, the amount in which drivers exceeded the speed limit was greater than when speeding with the systems deactivated.
That said, in an analysis of insurance claim data accumulated by the IIHS, ACC may still in fact lower overall crash risk. Studies have shown that the ACC systems will maintain a greater following distance by default when compared to most human drivers, while also reducing passing and lane changes.
“ACC does have some safety benefits, but it’s important to consider how drivers might cancel out these benefits by misusing the system,” said the lead author of the new paper, IIHS Statistician Sam Monfort. “Speed at impact is among the most important factors in whether or not a crash turns out to be fatal.”
As a reminder, General Motors Adaptive Cruise Control technology automatically accelerates and brakes the vehicle to maintain a driver-selected distance to the vehicle ahead, even in stop-and-go traffic conditions. To accomplish this, GM’s adaptive Cruise Control technology leverages onboard radar systems and cameras.