Here’s Why Self-Driving Vehicles Will Forever Change the Traffic Safety Paradigm

Flaura Koplin Winston, MD, PhD.  March 21, 2018

Self-driving vehicles, also known as highly automated vehicles (HAVs), were once in the realm of science fiction. But HAVs are here and about to transform the automotive industry and the U.S. transportation system, with retail models possibly being available as early as this year. HAVs could become a common sight on the road by 2055.

It’s no longer a question of “if” but “when.”…

Photograph of a Uber self driving car prototype testing in San Francisco, October 2016.
Uber self driving car prototype testing in San Francisco, October 2016. Wikimedia Commons.

As automakers, tech companies and transportation service providers race to claim a piece of the nascent industry, the safety of self-driving vehicles remains unclear….

….We examine the fundamental ways the Haddon Matrix — the primary paradigm used to analyze factors that contribute to injuries sustained in a motor vehicle crash and to develop injury prevention strategies — needs to be revised.

The Haddon Matrix is not designed to address vehicles where the driver has little or no control. Until now, a typical motor vehicle crash has involved the driver, the vehicle and the social/physical environments, which all have clearly articulated roles in either crash causation and mitigation. The introduction of HAVs presents an entirely new factor to consider – the artificial intelligence and response of the vehicle….

Of particular significance is the fact that roles that were considered separate in the Haddon Matrix for conventional vehicles now must be shared among the driver, vehicle and environment in more of a continuum than a matrix. The Haddon Matrix will also need to cover situations that go beyond the capabilities of HAV technology.

An updated Haddon Matrix paradigm should address new factors including whether the HAV technology is sophisticated enough to head off or mitigate human error and can save the driver in a variety of situations….

Traditional safety features, such as seat belts, airbags and proper maintenance should continue to be part of the Haddon Matrix, of course….

The prospect of an increasingly limited human role in the operation of a vehicle indicates that the injury prevention community should prepare to overhaul the Haddon Matrix dramatically in order to continue making relevant contributions to vehicle safety.


[Bold text, above, has been added by Advanced Drivers of North America / AD0NA to highlight areas of particular relevance to drivers’ existing safety capabilities.]

Read the full, important article:  Here’s Why Self-Driving Vehicles Will Forever Change the Traffic Safety Paradigm

Author: EddieWren

Eddie Wren is the CEO and Chief Instructor at Advanced Drivers of North America. His driver safety background is given at:

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