Drivers are 24% more likely to speed when using adaptive cruise control

Drivers are 24% more likely to speed when using adaptive cruise control

A Step Beyond Traditional Cruise Control

With traditional cruise control, a driver sets the speed of their vehicle. When a driver applies the brakes to accommodate traffic or other conditions, the system turns itself off and must be manually reset.

The more sophisticated Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) uses sensors to calculate and maintain a preselected distance from the vehicle immediately ahead. This means the driver no longer has to apply the brake or reset the system. By adding a lane-centering feature, the vehicle also remains within its travel lane.

This may seem like less work and increased safety for the driver, but the system is open to dangerous abuse. Adaptive Cruise Control, for example, does not restrict drivers from setting speeds higher than the legal limit.

The system also can cause complacency among drivers who think ACC is in complete control. In fact, Adaptive Cruise Control still requires constant oversight by the driver because the system cannot handle some driving situations.


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Some driver assistance technologies – in particular, adaptive cruise control – may unintentionally make drivers’ behaviours less safe, suggests a new study from the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.’s Blind-Spot Monitor

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How Adaptive Cruise Control Impacts Rates of Speeding

IIHS researchers studied 40 drivers for four weeks to see how having adaptive cruise control affected driving behavior. They gave drivers a vehicle that included adaptive cruise control. Researchers found that driver who used adaptive cruise control were 24 percent more likely to speed on highways than those who had the systems turned off. Additionally, they were more likely to speed more miles per hour above the speed limit than the drivers whose systems were turned off.

The IIHS study did not give an opinion about why ACC may cause drivers to speed. However, one theory is that because some ACC systems adjust speeds by 5-mph increments, a driver may be encouraged someone to set the system for 5 or 10 mph above the speed limit  Additionally, some drivers use ACC to keep pace with traffic during high congestion, which may cause them to maintain higher speeds.


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