Conference Proceeding

How Do Drivers Behave in a Highly Automated Car?

  • Natasha Merat (University of Leeds, Leeds, UK)
  • A Hamish Jamson


This paper outlines the results of a driving simulator study conducted for the European CityMobil project, which was designed to investigate the effect of a highly automated driving scenario on driver behaviour. Drivers’ response to a number of ‘critical’ scenarios was compared in manual driving with that in automated driving. Drivers were in full control of the vehicle and its manoeuvres in the manual driving condition, whilst control of the vehicle was transferred to an ‘automated system’ in the automated driving condition. Automated driving involved the engagement of lateral and longitudinal controllers, which kept the vehicle in the centre of the lane and at a speed of 40 mph, respectively. Drivers were required to regain control of the driving task if the automated system was unable to handle a critical situation. An auditory alarm forewarned drivers of an imminent collision in such critical situations. Drivers’ response to all critical events was found to be much later in the automated driving condition, compared to manual driving. This is thought to be because drivers’ situation awareness was reduced during automated driving, with response only produced after drivers heard the alarm. Alternatively, drivers may have relied too heavily on the system, waiting for the auditory alarm before responding in a critical situation. These results suggest that action must be taken when implementing fully automated driving to ensure that the driver is kept in the loop at all times and is able to respond in time and appropriately during critical situations.

How to Cite:

Merat, N. & Jamson, A., (2009) “How Do Drivers Behave in a Highly Automated Car?”, Driving Assessment Conference 5(2009), 514-521. doi:

Rights: Copyright © 2009 the author(s)

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Published on
25 Jun 2009
Peer Reviewed