Hi-tech automated cars make drivers lazy and less likely to see motorcycles which could lead to an increase in Sorry Mate, I Didn’t See You (SMIDSY) crashes, a new study has found.
Rice University and Texas Tech University studied 60 drivers over a 40-minute drive in a “simulated partially automated vehicle” and found their hazard perception decreased.
Partially automated vehicles are those with sensors that detect hazards and apply drive aids such as steering and brake application to avoid a collision.
These systems don’t totally take over, so the driver need to monitor for hazards and react to them by taking avoidance action.
However, the study found that drivers in these vehicles depend on the tech and become complacent, losing attention to the road ahead and its various hazards.
The study found that “safe operation becomes less likely when the demands associated with monitoring automation increase and as a drive extends in duration”.
So the longer they drive, the worse their inattention and complacency becomes.
“This study also supports the notion that vigilance performance in partially automated vehicles is likely due to driver overload,” according to the study, “Driver Vigilance in Automated Vehicles: Effects of Demands on Hazard Detection Performance,” in the publication Human Factors.
It’s not good news for motorcyclists who are already largely unseen by motorists.
And as more and more tech is included in cars, it could get worse, says study lead author Eric Greenlee, an assistant professor of psychological sciences at Texas Tech.
“The bottom line is, until automated driving systems are completely reliable and can respond in all situations, the driver must stay alert and be prepared to take over,” he says.
“These vehicles have a lot to offer, but we’re a long way from being able to detect everything going on,” the researchers say.
“Until that day comes, we hope this research will raise awareness about the limitations of automated cars and their operators.”
However, a 2017 US report by a motorcycle industry panel, cleverly called Give a Shift, says automated vehicles could kill off motorcycling.
“There is a “very real risk of motorcycling being completely cut out of the conversation for future vehicle infrastructure systems,” the group concludes in its report.
“As this (autonomous vehicles) technology grows, contemporary motorcycles will be even further elevated into higher risk categories in the eyes of traffic systems technologies, insurance companies, city planners and autonomous vehicle manufacturers who currently own and direct the conversation.
“The panel feels strongly that the single biggest threat to motorcycling overall (particularly in urban and higher density environments) will be the incompatibility between autonomous vehicles and existing motorcycles.”
The group says the technology will push self-operated vehicles such as motorcycles “out of the transportation matrix”.