Several new systems that automakers now offer to make driving safer are actually putting more drivers at risk, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The group recently released the results of a study looking at the risks associated with new safety technology, specifically adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist.

Drivers place too much faith in safety systems

The Foundation says drivers who participated in the study and had the systems in use on their vehicles were twice as likely to become distracted as opposed to when they weren’t using the technology. The systems work like this:

  • Lane-keeping assist: Helps keep vehicles from drifting into another lane by gently tugging the wheel
  • Adaptive cruise control: Automatically slows or accelerates the vehicle to keep a safe distance between cars

Study examines two groups of drivers

AAA Foundation researchers joined with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute to review video of two groups. One included drivers who used their own cars that already had the systems. Drivers in the other group were given cars with the technology to drive for a month.

The findings show drivers who owned the vehicles with the safety technology were more likely to engage in distracted driving, by texting or adjusting their GPS and other controls. Drivers with less experience using the systems were more likely to be focused on the road.

Drivers need to become more educated

The Foundation says advanced driver assistance technologies have much to offer for driver safety and comfort, but the gadgets are not a substitute for an engaged and attentive driver. AAA says it proves the auto industry has a long way to go as it transitions to self-driving cars.

When buying or renting a new vehicle, AAA advises that you understand what safety systems exist in the vehicle and what they do, remain alert and attentive behind the wheel and recognize that each of these technologies has limitations.