Autonomous Vehicles: Current Driver Assistance Features Assessed

While many people are eagerly anticipating the inevitable additional safety of autonomous vehicles, and others are wildly exaggerating how quickly this will all be available, it is apparent that none of it is truly imminent.

Rear three-quarter view of a Tesla Model S 85 sedan.
Good looking from any angle, a Tesla Model S 85;  a very enjoyable car to drive. (Copyright image.)

Indeed, as the first steps in just semi-autonomy, adaptive cruise control and active lane-keeping are only now getting detailed appraisal, yet these features are only the tip of the autonomy iceberg.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety [IIHS] has tested five cars that are available with these two systems.

A major issue was addressed by David Zuby, IIHS chief research officer, who said:  “Designers are struggling with trade-offs inherent in automated assistance.  If they limit functionality to keep drivers engaged, they risk a backlash that the systems are too rudimentary. If the systems seem too capable, then drivers may not give them the attention required to use them safely.”

This comment alone must give us all pause for thought about the extent to which drivers are going to overestimate the capabilities of various features which will increasingly be added to future cars.  Such overestimation is inevitably going to result in unnecessary deaths — seemingly a ‘Catch 22’ scenario.

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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