In addition to cruise control, speed limiters that set a car’s maximum speed and are not typically used in the U.S. were part of the study.
Drivers were presented with four scenarios. They went through each three times, with cruise control, with the speed limiter and using neither device.
Researchers found the attention capacity of drivers was reduced. Not being attentive reduced a drivers’ abilities to respond in dangerous situations. Specifically, the study participants couldn’t merge into traffic as easily due to difficulty adjusting their driving speeds.
The study also found the following:
Cruise control causes drivers to stay in the fast lane longer and move back into the slow lane less often.
Safe distances from overtaken vehicles are reduced by an average of 5 percent before drivers move back into the slow lane, and 10 percent when moving back.
Drivers experienced a reduced ability to keep their vehicles in a straight line, oddly enough making the trips longer.
Reaction time, especially in emergencies, increased. In an emergency, that increase was about 1 second.
WTOP’s Lacey Mason and Nick Iannelli contributed to this report. Follow LaceyWTOP and @NickWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.