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Us investigation: Driver assistance systems are making driving more dangerous

A new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and THE Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab shows that when drivers gain trust in a driver assistance system, they use electronics more often, causing them to take their hands off the wheel.
Twenty Massachusetts volunteers were asked to use advanced driving assistance for a month, and researchers recorded how often they took their hands off the wheel or their attention off the road. These things include using your cell phone, adjusting your stereo or air conditioner, and drinking coffee.

The first group of 10 people will drive the Range Rover Evoque, which is equipped with adaptive cruise and the system will automatically enable the vehicle to travel at the speed of the driver’s choice, while maintaining a preset distance from the vehicle. The second group of 10 drove the Volvo S90, which carried Pilot Assist, a partially automated system that combines ACC with lane positioning technology to keep the vehicle in the middle of the lane at all times.According to the classification system developed by SAE International, the degree of automation ranges from 0 (no automation) to 5 (fully autonomous driving). Level 1 system can assist the driver to complete a driving task, ACC falls into this category. A level 2 system, such as a driver assistance system, can assist in two tasks. The level 2 is the most automated system currently in production.

When drivers first drove the vehicle, there was no difference in the frequency of disconnection signs whether they were manually driving, using ACC, or using Pilot Assist. After a month, the frequency began to increase significantly, and they often began to take their hands off the wheel and look away.

“Drivers were more than twice as likely to show signs of disengagement after a month of using the driver assistance system as they were at the start of the study,” said Ian Reagan, senior research scientist at the IIHS. “They were more than 12 times as likely to take their hands off the wheel after they got used to it as compared to manual driving.”Tesla’s autopilot system is the most famous of its kind. They are not being developed to replace drivers, but to improve road safety. However, as automation increases, drivers can easily lose focus.

“This research supports our call for carmakers to take stronger steps to ensure that drivers are on the road and ready to take over when using Level 2.” Reagan said.Earlier this year, the IIHS issued a series of recommendations to try to improve existing driving-assistance systems. The European New Car Assessment Programme recently launched a rating for driver assistance systems, which assess how the system controls speed and steering, as well as how it monitors the driver’s attention. U.S. regulators have yet to develop similar ratings or standards.

When it comes to the impact of technology on driver behavior, the new study illustrates some significant differences between ACC and the combination of ACC and lane center.

Volvo S90 drivers are less likely to be distracted when using ACC than when driving manually, which has not changed much over time. However, with the intervention of Pilot Assist, only 4 out of 10 pilots used ACC alone after getting familiar with the system, while the rest of them chose Pilot Assist.Drivers who regularly use driver assistance systems are more likely to look at or pick up their phones than when driving manually. As familiarity increases, the propensity to do so increases dramatically.

Field tests have shown that ACC, by controlling speed and distance from the vehicle, may have more safety benefits than the benefits provided by front-impact warning and automatic emergency braking. But neither field test data nor insurance claim analysis showed similar safety benefits after adding lane centring.Some of the accidents that have occurred after using Tesla’s autopilot system have shown how dangerous too much trust in technology can be.


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