According to a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Adaptive Cruise Control may be encouraging drivers to speed.
Adaptive Cruise Control, or ACC, is an advanced version of cruise control that enables a vehicle to sense the distance between itself and the vehicle in front of it, and automatically slow down as needed to maintain a particular distance.
With traditional cruise control, if the vehicle gets too close to the one in front of it, the driver has to manually put on the brake, which resets the system. With ACC that’s no longer the case.
Additionally, vehicles with lane centering automation are able to maintain a set position in between the borders of the lane the vehicle is traveling in.
The IIHS study showed that ACC and lane centering systems actually substantially increased the likelihood that a motorist would speed, and that users of ACC were actually setting the cruise control for speeds above the posted limits.
Researchers at IIHS studied the driving behaviors of 40 motorists in the Boston metro area for a month. The drivers were provided with vehicles with either ACC or with ACC and lane centering capabilities.
They found that on limited-access roads such as highways and freeways, drivers who had these automation systems engaged were 24% more likely to speed, and that the amounts they went over the speed limit were actually greater than when driving manually in the same situations.
Using these automated systems to speed actually undermines many of their potential benefits. And considering the fact that the severity of the results of a crash go up dramatically with even small increases in speed at the time of impact, it’s disappointing to see these systems abused in such a manner
According to IIHS Statistician Sam Monfort: “ACC does have some safety benefits, but it’s important to consider how drivers might cancel out these benefits by misusing the system. Speed at impact is among the most important factors in whether or not a crash turns out to be fatal.”
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