Owners of new vehicles with driving assistance technology may understand it better after six months of use, but the depth of their knowledge is limited, according to a new study.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research shows that a “learn as you go” approach still leaves gaps in understanding when compared to another group of drivers who had a strong grasp of the technology, partially due to a brief intensive hands-on training session.

Also, researchers noted a disturbing emergence of a small, overconfident group of drivers who falsely believed their time behind the wheel gave them expertise with the system.

“Our research finds that drivers who attempt the ‘self-taught’ approach to an advanced driver-assistance system might not fully master its entire capabilities,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “In contrast, drivers who have adequate training are able to effectively use the vehicle technology.”

The AAA has issued the following advice for new owners of vehicles with driver assisted technology:

  • Purpose—Learn the purpose of driving assistance technology by requesting hands-on training at the dealership, reading the vehicle’s owner’s manual and visiting the manufacturer’s website.
  • Limitations—Do not make any assumptions about what the technology can and cannot do. A driving assistance system should not be confused with a self-driving one.
  • Allow Time For Practice—Allow time for safe on-road practice so drivers know exactly how this technology works in real driving situations.
  • Never Rely On It—Do not rely on this technology; instead, act as if the vehicle does not have it with the driver always prepared to retake control if needed.