Cruise Control May be Dangerous for Fatigued Drivers

A French study attempted to answer the question of whether cruise control is safe, and as the reports the technology can contribute to a driver “zoning out.”


Our Charlotte car accident attorneys know cruise control is most often used at highway speed — which also presents the most risks in the event of an accident. In other words, a driver needs to be paying more attention on the highway, not less. Still, cruise control is a convenience most of us take for granted.

The study detailed how French drivers responded to the use of cruise control. The results show that when a driver uses cruise control they often become progressively less attentive to the road.

The study was conducted using 90 drivers who were separated into three age groups and required to drive a simulator over the course of three days.

All drivers showed slowed reaction times and drowsiness while using cruise control. The study found that younger drivers (ages 18 – 30) were most affected by fatigue when using cruise control.

The study connected drivers to a machine that measures brain activity and eye movement. The drivers then drove a simulator at 75 miles an hour and encountered a toll booth, bus accident, and road construction.

With cruise control the car automatically stayed at the same speed until the brake is applied. In the study drivers began to brake progressively later.

By the end of the simulations some drivers began braking as much as 85 meters later than they did earlier in the simulation.

The study also requested participants to report their level of attention every 15 minutes. Average levels began to see a significant decrease as early as 30 minutes into the simulation.

The study participants ranked their vigilance in levels ranging from “rather awake” to the alarming “neither awake nor asleep.”

A machine measuring eye movement and brain activity confirmed the self-reporting of the drivers. As participants relaxed their guard they slowed down brain activity and eye movement.

According to an article on drowsy driving increases aggressiveness, impairs judgment, decreases awareness, and slows reaction time.

Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. According to research fatigue or drowsiness is the primary cause of as many as 100,000 car accidents every year. These accidents have resulted in the death of 1,500 people and injured another 71,000.

Some key ways to avoid driving drowsy include:

• Stop driving when you feel tired. Drink a caffeinated beverage and stay off the road until it takes affect.
• While waiting for the caffeine to enter your bloodstream (about 30 minutes) take a short nap.
• Before driving on a long trip you should always get at least six hours of sleep but more is preferable.
• Do not make plans to work all day and then drive all night.
• You should keep your schedule as normal as possible and drive at times when you are normally awake.
• You should avoid driving during times of the day that are “sleepy” This includes midafternoon and the time between midnight and dawn. Even if you can’t fall asleep it is a good idea to stop driving and rest.
• Do not eat foods heavy in carbohydrates as they will usually make you sleepy.
• Be careful not to take medications that will make you tired.
• On long trips you should always have a passenger with you who is awake and able to talk to you.
• You should take a break every two hours and do some stretching exercises. This can relieve stress and cramping.

If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident, contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.

More Blog Posts:

Back to School Traffic Safety in the Carolinas, Aug. 27, 2013, Winston-Salem Car Accident Lawyer Blog

Rural Accidents Deadlier Than City Guns or Collisions, North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Blog, August 20, 2013

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