Driver Aids May Create Worse Drivers, Report Says
Safety systems save drivers from their own inattentiveness but may encourage them to be more inattentive.
Safety features such as blind spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, and automatic braking help prevent accidents. Unfortunately, they may also have a side effect of encouraging people to pay less attention to their driving. Now, automakers are becoming more aware and concerned about these driver aids actually degrading driving skills, according to Automotive News.
As manufacturers realize how much people take their driver aid systems for granted, some are dialing back their capabilities a bit. Tesla has already required more driver interaction for Autopilot than it used to. Cadillac will be using eye tracking technology for its upcoming Super Cruise mode to make sure the driver's eyes are still on the road, not their phone or a good book.
But even when drivers use these systems as intended, they are more likely to rely on a blind spot monitor than to turn their head and look for themselves. Driver aids are supposed to be just that—aids, not replacements for your own eyes. This can also cause problems when people accustomed to these systems drive cars that don't have them. A driver who relies on their blind spot monitors may not look before changing lanes at all, causing a crash if another car is already there.
Speaking from my own experience, I've noticed that more and more people these days seem incapable of staying in their lane—a fundamental driving skill. I can't say whether it's because of being distracted, relying too much on lane keeping assist, or simply being bad drivers, but it's happening.
There's nothing wrong with using semi-autonomous driver aids, but we need to realize their limitations. Despite what certain marketing materials would have you believe, we're a long way from fully autonomous cars. Until then, we still need to keep our heads up and our eyes on the road.