Do drivers change their manual car-following behaviour after automated car-following?

Tyron Louw*, Rafael Goncalves, Guilhermina Torrao, Vishnu Radhakrishnan, Wei Lyu, Pablo Puente Guillen, Natasha Merat

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is evidence that drivers’ behaviour adapts after using different advanced driving assistance systems. For instance, drivers’ headway during car-following reduces after using adaptive cruise control. However, little is known about whether, and how, drivers’ behaviour will change if they experience automated car-following, and how this is affected by engagement in non-driving-related tasks (NDRT). The aim of this driving simulator study, conducted as part of the H2020 L3Pilot project, was to address this topic. We also investigated the effect of the presence of a lead vehicle during the resumption of control, on subsequent manual driving behaviour. Thirty-two participants were divided into two experimental groups. During automated car-following, one group was engaged in an NDRT (SAE Level 3), while the other group was free to look around the road environment (SAE Level 2). Both groups were exposed to Long (1.5 s) and Short (.5 s) Time Headway (THW) conditions during automated car-following, and resumed control both with and without a lead vehicle. All post-automation manual drives were compared to a Baseline Manual Drive, which was recorded at the start of the experiment. Drivers in both groups significantly reduced their time headway in all post-automation drives, compared to a Baseline Manual Drive. There was a greater reduction in THW after drivers resumed control in the presence of a lead vehicle, and also after they had experienced a shorter THW during automated car-following. However, whether drivers were in L2 or L3 did not appear to influence the change in mean THW. Subjective feedback suggests that drivers appeared not to be aware of the changes to their driving behaviour, but preferred longer THWs in automation. Our results suggest that automated driving systems should adopt longer THWs in car-following situations, since drivers’ behavioural adaptation may lead to adoption of unsafe headways after resumption of control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)669-683
Number of pages15
JournalCognition, Technology and Work
Issue number4
Early online date21 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

© 2020, The Author(s). his article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made.

Funding Information:
The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Commission Horizon 2020 program under the project L3Pilot, grant agreement number 723051. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this publication lies entirely with the authors. The authors would like to thank all partners within L3Pilot and the University of Leeds Driving Simulator for their cooperation and valuable contribution.


  • Automated vehicles
  • Behavioural adaptation
  • Car-following
  • Driver behaviour
  • Headway


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