Research Reveals That Self-Driving Tech is Making Drivers Worse
【Summary】While driverless features are being touted as technology that will help save lives and decrease the amount of accidents on the road, research has shown that driver-assist features are destroying drivers’ skills.
In addition to helping humans get some time back in traffic, self-driving cars will also help reduce, and even one day completely eliminate, the number of automotive-related fatalities. But there's a downside to driverless technology and it centers around human drivers that are learning to rely on the systems.
Self-Driving Tech Is Making Terrible Drivers
In a report, Bloomberg claims that current autonomous systems on cars are making humans worse drivers. While the technology was once reserved for high-end cars, the tech has been making its way down to more mainstream vehicles, making declining driving skills an epidemic.
"There are lots of concerns about people checking out and we are trying to monitor that now," said Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "Everything we do that makes the driving task a little easier means that people are going to pay a little bit less attention when they're driving."
Drivers Would Rather Be Texting Than Driving
According to a survey conducted by Harris Poll for Erie Insurance, consumers can't wait to do other things while driving a car with 45 percent of those surveyed claimed that they would make phone calls when operating a fully-autonomous vehicle. Other things consumers would rather do than driving a car include, sleeping, eating, watching tv, reading, and texting.
As Bloomberg claims, autonomous technology was introduced as a way to help cut roadway deaths, as the outlet reports that more than 40,000 individuals died in automotive-related incidents in 2016. And the tech was introduced to help cure inattentive drivers. But the technology has actually enabled drivers to be even more inattentive behind the wheel.
Making Perfectly Balanced Tech Is Difficult
The situation is clearly a nerve-racking one for automakers and companies, as they struggle to make their latest and greatest technology engaging for drivers, instead of allowing them to take their eyes of the road, claims mark Wakefield, managing director and head of the automotive practice at consultant AlixPartners LLP.
Automakers, according to Bloomberg, are now looking for ways to ensure that drivers remain attentive when behind the wheel of a vehicle, even if it has autonomous features. General Motors, for example, is working on an eye-tracking system for models that are equipped with its Super Cruise feature, while Nissan requires the driver to grab the steering wheel every 30 seconds on models equipped with its ProPilot Assist system.
"You can be conservative in your design and emphasize safety over convenience to protect the consumer from themselves, which clearly is needed, but the whole industry is not going to do that," said Wakefield. "So you'll be right, but you didn't sell a car."
Even consumers and drivers know that driverless features will eventually diminish the need to have any driving skills, as the outlet points towards an informal survey that Kelley Blue Book conducted for Bloomberg News back in July that saw 57 percent of drivers claim that driverless features will diminish a driver's skills.
"Without question, technology is making drivers lazier and less attentive," said Mike Harley, group managing editor at Kelly Blue Book. "Most of today's digital ‘driver assistance' features are designed to overlay basic driving skills, which relaxes the driver's sense of responsibility."
On paper, there are a lot of advantages to autonomous vehicles, but the major downside to the cars are human drivers, who are starting to rely on the technology a little too much.
Vineeth Joel Patel
Joel Patel has been covering all aspects of the automotive industry for four years as an editor and freelance writer for various websites. When it comes to cars, he enjoys covering the merger between technology and cars. In his spare time, Joel likes to watch baseball, work on his car, and try new foods
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