Look ma, no hands: people don’t understand how to use driver-assist systems safely

Home Technology Look ma, no hands: people don’t understand how to use driver-assist systems safely
Look ma, no hands: people don’t understand how to use driver-assist systems safely

Adaptive cruise control, lane change assistance, collision avoidance, blind spot monitoring, autopilots: These are just a few of the driver-assist features that are arriving in new cars. As technology races ahead with the aim of making driving safer, drivers are left with the daunting task of figuring out how it all works.

Many dealerships offer car buyers a brief orientation to these advanced driver-assist technologies. The glovebox manual, now thicker than ever, provides many of the technical details. But as car technology continues to advance, scientists are making important discoveries about the human side of the equation, particularly what happens when drivers are asked to perform familiar driving tasks in new ways.

This aspect of new cars is seldom discussed during orientations or covered in manuals. Here are some findings about using advanced driver-assist technologies that every driver should know.

Staying alert

A recent study that observed new car owners during their first month of ownership found that drivers paid close attention as they acquired a sense of what their driver-assist systems can and cannot do. But by the end of the month, many drivers began to allow their attention to drift from the road in uncomplicated driving situations – seemingly impossible-to-get-wrong scenarios such as open stretches of highway.

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