Cruise control makes long trips and highway driving easier for motorists and is a very commonly used feature in vehicles. Because cruise control is found in so many cars and utilized by so many motorists, it is important to understand the impact that this feature can have on driver safety.
Recently, the AP News Archive reported on a study conducted in France involving 90 drivers. The study sought to uncover how cruise control effects driver behavior and thus how it affects the risk of accidents. Our Highland injury lawyers know that the results of the study were mixed, with cruise control helping to reduce some types of accidents while increasing the risks of others.
Cruise Control Can Reduce Speeding But Increase Drowsy/Distracted Driving Crashes
The biggest benefit found for cruise control was that it allowed drivers to maintain a constant speed and reduced the risk of motorists going over the limit. This is a big benefit, since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has estimated that about a third of all of the deadly auto accidents in the United States involve drivers who are going too fast.
While speed-related accidents can be reduced through the use of cruise control, there may be an increase in the number of accidents caused by drivers who are not focused on the road. The study revealed that drivers were slower to react and reported “zoning out” when they used cruise control, and this had a marked impact on their driving abilities.
To determine what cruise control would do to a driver’s focus and attention span, the researchers divided the 90 drivers up into different age groups and had each of the study participants drive a simulated 75-minute course while their brain activity and eye movement were monitored. The drivers were also asked to self-report on their state of mind as they drove the course. As they drove, the drivers also encountered simulated obstacles including a construction site, accident and toll booth on the road.
For drivers with the cruise control on, their minds began to shift and their attention began to wander almost immediately. The drivers were told to report on how awake they felt every fifteen minutes, and at the beginning of the study the majority said that they were “rather awake.” Within 30 minutes of driving with the cruise on, however, they instead reported they were “neither awake nor asleep.”
Drivers in this zoned-out stage were much slower to react. The study showed that the motorists actually hit the brakes 85 yards further down the road when encountering an obstacle by the end of the driving course than they did at the beginning.
When drivers zone out, are distracted and don’t pay attention when using cruise control, they thus increase the chance of a rear-end collision or other accident caused by not stopping in time to avoid obstacles on the roadways.
Attorney Burton A. Padove represents accident victims. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, call (219) 836-2200 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
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