IIHS: driver assistance systems do not make cars self-driving

Few people in Texas and across the U.S. know what driver assistance systems are capable of, according to a recent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study. In fact, a great many people think that these systems are actually capable of fully autonomous driving. Yet autonomous vehicles are far from being perfected. The testing of them has even led to fatalities.

In the IIHS study, more than 2,000 people gave their opinion as to what would be safe when certain driver assistance systems were engaged. Nearly half believed that with Tesla’s Autopilot on, they could drive hands-free. More than 30% thought that calling would be permissible while the system was engaged. A very few even thought that taking a nap would be safe with Autopilot on.

Of the five levels of automation, driver assistance systems only achieve the second level. At this level, a driver is still expected to maintain complete control over their vehicle and be alert to their surroundings.

The IIHS also had 80 people watch a video on the safety features of the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Half received orientation beforehand, but even these participants had trouble understanding the limits of each feature. They could not, for instance, explain why a lane centering device would become inactive at certain times.

Unfortunately, the very devices that are meant to prevent motor vehicle crashes can sometimes cause accidents indirectly by giving drivers a false sense of security. If a driver becomes inattentive or reckless behind the wheel, they will be at fault when an accident occurs. With the help of legal counsel, someone who has been injured at the hands of a negligent driver may seek compensation through a personal injury claim. A lawyer could hire third parties to investigate the crash and gather evidence against the defendant.