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Are automated vehicles turning people into bad drivers?

On Behalf of | Sep 10, 2023 | Car Accidents |

Advanced driver assistance systems and semi-automated vehicles are all the rage these days – but are they actually turning people into terrible drivers?

Automation is supposed to keep the roads safer and save lives, but people may be relying just a bit too much on the tech in their vehicles to handle all their driving problems.

Humans seem prone to over-reliance on technology

Features like adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance and automatic emergency braking have become commonplace in many modern cars. Semi-automated vehicles from Tesla, Cadillac and Nissan, among others, are also increasing in popularity.

But too much of a good thing can actually backfire when it comes to safety. Studies show that up to 53% of drivers tend to have so much confidence in the technology of modern vehicles that they neglect their own responsibilities behind the wheel. This can manifest as:

  • Complacency: When drivers grow accustomed to their vehicles automatically maintaining their speed or staying in their lanes, they may start paying less attention to the road. By assuming that the “car can handle it,” they may stop thinking about the maneuvers they need to make if the car doesn’t handle it.
  • False security: When a driver thinks that their car will keep them safe, they may simply start to have less situational awareness – something that is critical to good defensive driving. That could lead to things like failing to check blind spots before changing lanes or not looking at their mirrors before backing out of a parking space.
  • Weakened driving skills: Good driving takes practice, and drivers who rely too much on their vehicles to handle the job can end up being unprepared to handle an emergency or navigate a complex situation that the tech can’t manage. Their driving skills may simply erode over time.
  • Transition confusion: When a semi-autonomous vehicle suddenly prompts a driver to take over in an emergency, that can be problematic if the driver is lost in their own thoughts or otherwise distracted.

Far too many drivers fail to appreciate the limitations of technology. Even so-called “self-driving” cars need human guidance. While safety technology has a lot of advantages, negligent use and complacency can lead to avoidable accidents.

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