New research from AAA finds that people who regularly use advanced driver-assistance technology are far more likely to be distracted behind the wheel. These systems can make a car semi-autonomous, but the National Transportation Safety Board warns some drivers rely on them too much.
This month, a Tesla sedan slammed into two cars, including a parked Connecticut state police cruiser. The driver said autopilot was on while he checked on his dog in the backseat.
In Los Angeles, one man witnessed another driver who appeared to be taking a nap while driving, reports CBS News correspondent Kris Van Cleave.
"We were in his area while we were driving for probably about like 10 minutes, and he only woke up one time and kind of looked around and then he just went back to sleep," Seth Blake said.
Nearly 93% of all new cars have at least one available advanced driver-assistance feature. They can help maintain your lane, speed and distance from other cars and even hit the brakes. AAA found drivers who regularly use those systems are nearly twice as likely to be distracted than when the systems are off.
"Are they essentially zoning out behind the wheel?" Van Cleave asked AAA researcher William Horry.
"Yeah, I think we're seeing some evidence of that," Horry said. "These technologies can actually really make it seem as though the vehicle has got these different aspects of driving covered, and so, that can lull you into this false sense of security."
Drivers who were new to the assistance technology were less likely to show signs of distracted driving with the systems active compared to when they were driving without them.
"That group's a little bit more less trusting of the system. Maybe they're trying to figure it out," Horry said.
Carmakers say drivers have to be prepared to take over at any time because these safety features do not make the car autonomous and they're not perfect. The systems are becoming more common in vehicles.
A Tesla with autopilot engaged rear-ended a fire truck stopped on the freeway in California in January 2018. Another slammed into a police car on the side of a Southern California road in May 2018.
Tesla did not respond to repeated requests for comments, but in the past has stressed drivers need to stay engaged with the road. While advanced driver-assistance systems are becoming more common, there is no federal standard so they all work a little differently. However, laws on distracted driving still apply.
Studies show taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your crash risk.