Car Culture

IIHS study shows that adaptive cruise might make you more likely to speed

Of course, the study showed that people like to speed regardless.

Give a driver adaptive cruise, watch them speed according to a new study.
Craig Cole

Out of all the advanced driver-assistance features that are now commonplace on new vehicles, my favorite is probably adaptive cruise control. It turns what would otherwise be arduous Southern California freeway slogs into relatively relaxed and mostly stress-free experiences.

Unfortunately, there's a downside to people's use of adaptive cruise control (ACC), because according to a study released recently by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), people are a lot more likely to speed while using it.

How much more likely? If the driver in question only uses ACC, they are 18% more likely to speed than if they were driving manually -- that goes up to 19% if they're also using lane-keeping assist. Of course, the study also concluded that 77% of its participants were speeding during manual driving.

The study was based on 40 adult drivers from the Boston area who were given either a 2017 Volvo S90 or a 2016 Range Rover Evoque to use for a period of four weeks. We'd like to have seen other similar groups of adults from different areas of the country to give the study a bit more perspective.

In addition to a driver's increased likelihood of speeding with ACC, the study also found that drivers were more likely to drive faster than they would manually. This was especially true on limited-access roadways like freeways with speed limits of around 55 mph.

What's the takeaway from all this? The IIHS believes that the increased speeding counteracts the safety benefits that driver-assistance systems would otherwise offer. We suspect that is probably true and that people are becoming more accustomed to relying on those assistance systems, which leads to bad driving habits.