When High-Tech Cars Increase Road Risk

An overreliance on ‘partial automation’ can make drivers less attentive.

1 minute read

March 25, 2024, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Cose-up of person's hands on steering wheel driving down highway with sunset sky.

Song_about_summer / Adobe Stock

After testing 14 versions of ‘partial automation’ features in vehicles, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) concluded that “There’s no evidence that (partial automation) makes driving safer, and, in fact, it can create new risks by making it easier for the driver’s attention to wander.”

According to a piece by Ben Abramson on Strong Towns, “Basic performance testing included seeing how the systems function in prescribed conditions at maintaining speed, distance, and lane control. Most of the systems worked as designed during these sessions, conducted in clear weather and favorable light conditions.”

However, in testing systems that are designed to monitor whether drivers are in control and paying attention, “A look at the IIHS Report Card shows a slew of bad marks in categories such as Attention Reminders and Emergency Procedures, with the report concluding that ‘most of the systems fail multiple safety feature requirements.’”

These systems, while not billed as ‘self-driving,’ use similar technology as  autopilot systems. “Seeing how these systems can fail even in controlled testing conditions shows how challenging it is to deploy them safely in more complex urban environments,” Abramson writes.

According to author Peter Norton, self-driving cars perpetuate a historical pattern. “Seeing how these systems can fail even in controlled testing conditions shows how challenging it is to deploy them safely in more complex urban environments.”

Friday, March 15, 2024 in Strong Towns

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