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While vehicle manufacturers aspire to develop truly self-driving cars and trucks, there are numerous additional advancements that must be made. For now, drivers can use semi-autonomous vehicles with an increasing number of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). Unfortunately, these safety systems might be increasing the number of distracted drivers on our roads.

In a study published by the AAA Foundation, two systems were identified as potentially problematic – adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping-assist technology. These two features, unfortunately, can lead to increased feelings of comfort and safety, and increased driver distractions.

Adaptive cruise control constantly monitors surrounding vehicles and increases or decreases speed based on the flow of traffic. Lane-keeping-assist will monitor the vehicle’s position within its lane and sound a warning while gently tugging the wheel if the car begins to drift. Both systems were developed as support to be used in conjunction with a driver’s focus. Unfortunately, drivers often make sweeping assumptions regarding the skill and control of these two systems. These examples of ADAS features were not developed to pilot a vehicle, they were developed as digital assistance designed to warn a driver of impending danger.

The problem, the study concluded, is that drivers might feel too safe. They believe the car is being controlled by the ADAS features and they can turn their attention in other directions. From cell phone use and manipulating the sound system to eating and personal grooming, drivers are tempted by the countless distractions available to them. The AAA Foundation study reinforced the notion that drivers must be further educated about the safety systems as well as their limitations of these advances.

Collisions caused by distracted drivers can lead to severe injuries such as brain trauma, paralysis and amputation.