Given that automation complacency, a hitherto controversial concept, is already used to blame and punish human drivers in current accident investigations and courts, it is essential to map complacency research in driving automation and determine whether current research can support its legitimate usage in these practical fields. Here, we reviewed its status quo in the domain and conducted a thematic analysis. We then discussed five fundamental challenges that might undermine its scientific legitimation: conceptual confusion exists in whether it is an individual versus systems problem; uncertainties exist in current evidence of complacency; valid measures specific to complacency are lacking; short-term laboratory experiments cannot address the long-term nature of complacency and thus their findings may lack external validity; and no effective interventions directly target complacency prevention. The Human Factors/Ergonomics community has a responsibility to minimise its usage and defend human drivers who rely on automation that is far from perfect.

Practitioner summary: Human drivers are accused of complacency and overreliance on driving automation in accident investigations and courts. Our review work shows that current academic research in the driving automation domain cannot support its legitimate usage in these practical fields. Its misuse will create a new form of consumer harms.