Vehicle safety technologies less capable than drivers think

Advanced technology safety features are increasingly standard equipment in new vehicles in Texas, but they may not be as safe or capable as people believe them to be. Automatic emergency braking, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, may reduce rear end crash rates by as much as 50% and could lower the total number of crashes reported to police by 20%. The sensors technologies like autonomous driving rely on, though, are not very good at some important things.

While Tesla’s autopilot is good at following another car in the same lane and adjusting its own speed to stay a safe distance back, the vehicles have trouble identifying stopped vehicles ahead of them. They also struggle to assess risks ahead when the car they’re following changes lanes, referred to as a cut-out scenario. Part of the problem that makes these technologies somewhat dangerous is that drivers treat them as fully autonomous when they are designed only to be partially autonomous.

Another problem is that drivers, even if they know the vehicles are only partially autonomous, tend to turn their attention away from the road. It is difficult to keep drivers engaged when the autonomous driving system is doing nearly all of the work of driving. Tesla has a steering wheel monitor and GM uses in-car cameras that detect the eye movements of drivers. Overall, these systems will likely improve driver safety, but we can expect some new kinds of crashes in the meantime.

People in Texas who are injured in car accidents might be entitled to compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages or other damages. An attorney who practices personal injury law might be able to help by gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses to prepare for litigation. An attorney might be able to negotiate settlement with at-fault parties and their insurance, or he or she might file a complaint for recovery in court.