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Project Highlights

Understanding the Impact of Technology: Do Advanced Driver Assistance and Semi-Automated Vehicle Systems Lead to Improper Driving Behavior?

Division of Vehicle, Driver, & System Safety

Driving automation systems (e.g., SAE Level 2) ultimately aim to enhance the comfort and safety of drivers. Importantly, while L2 automation can control some portions of the driving task (e.g., braking, steering) for extended time periods, these systems are designed to assist and support a driver in performing the driving task but are not intended to replace the driver. Unfortunately, there is some evidence that driver behavior may be detrimentally impacted by the use of advanced-vehicle technologies; however, more research is needed regarding the possible adverse effects of driving automation systems on driver behavior (e.g., distraction and overreliance upon the system).

In this study, data derived from two naturalistic driving studies involving vehicles equipped with L2 automation features were analyzed to evaluate driver behaviors with respect to driving automation system use, specifically distraction-related factors such as secondary task engagement, eye-glance behavior, and drowsiness. The results indicate that when drivers had prior experience using driving automation systems, they were almost two times as likely to participate in distracted driving behaviors when the systems were active than during manual driving. Drivers with less experience and familiarity with driving automation systems were less likely to drive distracted when the systems were active; however, these drivers tended to be somewhat drowsy when driving automation systems were activated. The results provide important insights into different operational phases of driving automation system use (i.e., learning/unfamiliar vs experienced users), whereby experience results in overtrust and overreliance on the advanced technologies, which subsequently may negate some of the safety benefits of these systems. Thus, while the safety benefits of driving automation systems are evident, it is imperative to better understand the impact these advanced technologies may have on driver behavior and performance in order to evaluate and address any unintended consequences associated with system use.

For more information, contact Naomi Dunn.