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Study: Adaptive Cruise Control Makes Drivers More Likely to Speed

Cruise control systems that automatically slow down to keep pace with traffic offer a lot of convenience and may go a long way toward reducing driver fatigue, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says they’re also contributing faster highway speeds.

A small study conducted in the Boston area using 40 drivers behind the wheel of Volvo and Land Rover models equipped with adaptive cruise control and lane-centering systems found drivers were 24% more likely to exceed the speed limit on highways with the driver-assistance features activated. Drivers were more likely to exceed the speed limit in 55-mph zones than they were in 65-mph zones with adaptive cruise control activated.

In short, the IIHS indicated that adaptive cruise control may provide more driver confidence because the systems work to keep cars within their lane and away from other traffic.

Adaptive cruise control systems first became available about 20 years ago, initially using radar technology. Newer systems also use cameras, which helped reduce their cost. Such features are standard on most Toyota and Subaru models today and are widely available on almost every new car.

The study was conducted by the IIHS working in partnership with the Advanced Vehicle Technology Consortium at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Though the study looked at the behavior of 40 drivers, the IIHS says that the trend can be applied broadly.

Andrew Ganz
Andrew Ganz
Andrew Ganz is an author specializing in helping in-market consumers get the most bang for their buck -- and the best car, while they're at it. When not virtually shopping for new and used cars, Andrew can probably be found under the hood of a vintage classic that's rapidly losing fluids.

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