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IIHS and Mobileye want to know if ADAS makes us better drivers

To find out, they completed a two-part study with IIHS employees and Mobileye's 6 Series retrofittable system.

One of the things that we find ourselves wondering is whether the proliferation of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) is benefiting us as drivers or making us too reliant on the electronic warnings and interventions that the systems provide.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) wondered the same thing, so it created a study using Mobileye's 6 Series aftermarket ADAS suite to look into the question. The study consisted of two phases, and 21 IIHS employees took part, according to a blog post by Mobileye earlier this month.

The first part of the study involved each participant driving as usual with the Mobileye system running in a "stealth mode" that would log alerts but not actually give them to the driver. This phase lasted four weeks and was meant to establish a baseline of driving habits.

The second phase -- aka the "Treatment Phase" -- lasted eight weeks and as before the study participants were asked to drive normally with the Mobileye system installed on their personal vehicles, only this time the Mobileye system alerted the drivers to unsafe situations.

After the eight weeks of driving were done and all of the data analyzed, IIHS and Mobileye determined that having the alerts did make the participants safer drivers. Throughout the treatment period, there was a decline of 30 to 70 percent in the number of driver alerts provided by the Mobileye system.

"We already know some of the crash avoidance technology built into new vehicles is making a difference," said Russ Rader, senior vice president of communications for IIHS. "These results show that aftermarket add-on tech can also be beneficial. Parents may be interested in the technologies to give them extra peace of mind when handing down a vehicle to a new teen driver."

Obviously, the sample size of the study (PDF) leaves something to be desired, and we'd love to see a more expansive look at this by IIHS, but it is an indication that ADAS systems benefit us in more ways than just slamming on the brakes for us when we're not paying attention.

Originally published March 20.
Update, March 21: Clarifies Mobileye's relationship to the study and adds a response from IIHS.