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New study says learning car technology through trial and error might be ineffective

Miki Yoshihito

A new study suggests drivers who learn new car technology as they go have gaps in their knowledge.

In the study, drivers from a variety of ranges were either given instruction on adaptive cruise control, or learned as they drove.

Adaptive cruise control is a system in newer cars that will automatically break and match the speed of the car in front of you.

Drivers who learned as they went learned limitations slower and had gaps in their knowledge, said Adrienne Woodland, spokesperson for AAA Michigan.

“This research suggests that today’s sophisticated vehicle technology requires more than trial and error learning until you master it," she said. "You can’t just fake it ‘til you make it at highway speeds.”

She experienced the gaps in trial-and-error learning with her own new car, she said.

"I honestly wasn’t aware of it in the midst of the pandemic. I wasn’t aware of it because I wasn’t driving on the highway—I really wasn’t going anywhere," Woodland said.

She said drivers should consciously learn the purpose of the technology, know the limitations, allow time for practice, and never rely on it.

Ben Jodway is an intern, serving as a reporter for WCMU Public Media and the Pioneer in Big Rapids. He has covered Indigenous communities and political extremism in Michigan.