A new study finds sharper turns on roadways severely limit the potential benefits of partially automated driver safety systems on cars.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), features like adaptive cruise control (ACC) and other sophisticated systems are often disabled automatically or turned off by drivers on sharper curves.
The findings question the overall effectiveness of safety features
The IIHS released its results on July 1, acknowledging that other research shows advanced driver assistance features help reduce crashes. However, the study’s author says the most recent data suggests these systems won’t reach their full potential unless drivers learn to trust them.
The study utilized Land Rover’s Range Rover Evoque equipped with ACC, and Volvo’s S90 vehicle with ACC and Volvo’s Pilot Assist, which combines ACC and lane centering.
Key takeaways from the research
ACC automatically reduces a vehicle’s speed to maintain a safe distance from the car in front. Lane centering keeps cars in the middle of a traffic lane. After studying 39 drivers with these features over four weeks, the results show:
- 72% of Land Rover drivers didn’t use ACC around the sharpest curves compared to straight stretches of roadways
- 75% of the Volvo drivers didn’t use Pilot Assist, and 66% didn’t utilize ACC around the sharpest corners
Researchers did not document whether drivers deactivated the features or were turned off automatically. Lane centering deactivates when drivers use turn signals or turn the steering wheel. ACC shuts off when drivers apply the brakes.
Safety systems can increase the risks from careless drivers
Previous studies show driver safety systems can actually increase hazards as they lull many drivers into a false sense of security. However, the IIHS says police-supplied data show advanced safety systems preventing forward crashes reduce injuries by 56%.
While ACC and lane centering used with other systems promise to save more lives, the risks remain high from drivers unfamiliar with the proper way to use them and others who turn them off completely. Researchers say motorists won’t reap the benefits until they are used to their full potential.