Car manufacturers are eager to usher in a new era of self-driving cars. However, the realization of this technology might still be decades away. Drivers are left with semi-autonomous vehicles loaded with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) designed to increase safety and protect all motorists on the road. However, it is possible that these safety features are making drivers unsafe in unexpected areas.

The AAA Foundation released a study that focused on two safety features – adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping-assist. Unfortunately, while these technological advances might be improving the overall safety of the vehicle itself, they are introducing an additional element of human error and distraction.

Part of the problem, the study determined, is that drivers don’t fully understand the extent of the safety feature. They might be over-stating the level of protection the car’s digital assistance is providing. For example, the adaptive cruise control technology is designed to maintain a safe distance between vehicles by monitoring speeds and either speeding up or slowing down as necessary. Lane-assist performs a similar function in keeping the vehicle in its lane and sounding an alarm when the driver begins to drift.

Both features are considered safety support and must be used in conjunction with the driver’s care and attention. Unfortunately, many drivers see these ADAS features as replacements for human attention. While the safety features are in place to protect drivers from making mistakes, they must only be used in support. Too often, drivers feel they can pull focus from the road and multi-task while behind the wheel. Eating, drinking, personal grooming or making phone calls are never acceptable behaviors no matter the level of safety features present in your vehicle.