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Automated Driving Tech is a Safety Hazard, Study Says

» Posted December 21, 2020Resources | Share This Post

Driver-assist technology is supposed to make the job of being behind the wheel safer and easier. But a new study shows that drivers are getting far too comfortable with partially automated driving systems.

Drivers are significantly more likely to lose focus from the road when operating a vehicle that is equipped with automated technology, according to a recent report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab. The pair found that those drivers were particularly at risk of taking one or both hands off of the wheel to fidget with their phones or tinker with other controls. 

The findings could have serious consequences.

“Crash investigators have identified driver disengagement as a major factor in every probe of fatal crashes involving partial automation we’ve seen,” IIHS Senior Researcher Ian Reagan said in a release unveiling the results of the study.

Researchers looked at the driving behaviors of 20 people in Massachusetts over the course of a month. 

Half of the group drove Land Rover Range Rover Evoque sport utility vehicles loaded with adaptive cruise control. This “Level 1” automation technology keeps the vehicles traveling at a speed chosen by the driver and maintains a pre-established following distance.

The other 10 drivers used a Volvo S90 with adaptive cruise control and Pilot Assist, a partially automated system that combines ACC with lane-centering technology. Pilot Assist is considered “Level 2” automation, the highest level available in cars today.

The researchers found that the drivers became more likely to disengage behind the wheel the longer they used vehicles with automated systems.

“Drivers were more than twice as likely to show signs of disengagement after a month of using Pilot Assist compared with the beginning of the study,” IIHS’ Reagan said. “Compared with driving manually, they were more than 12 times as likely to take both hands off the wheel after they’d gotten used to how the lane centering worked.”

How a California Lemon Law Attorney Can Help You

While major car manufacturers continue to tinker with technology designed to let machines do the driving in the future, they are also having a hard time making cars that are safe today. Millions of vehicles are recalled each year because of serious defects that pose real safety hazards.

Fortunately for car owners and lessors in California, there is the state’s lemon law. The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act requires carmakers to repair vehicles while they are under warranty and to buy back or replace cars that the company is unable or unwilling to fix.

California lemon law attorney Brian Bickel and his team at the Bickel Law Firm represent people in defective vehicle cases across the state. Our offices are conveniently located in San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Call us at (888) 800-1983 or contact us online to speak with a California lemon law attorney.


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