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The new car safety classifications will evaluate the effectiveness of partial automation systems

STATEN ISLAND, NY – As partial automation systems such as cruise control (ACC) and automated lane changing become increasingly common in vehicles, a new set of safety classifications will provide drivers with a better understanding of effectiveness of these technologies.

Earlier this month, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) announced that it will develop a new system that will rate a vehicle’s partial automation systems as “good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.”

To get a good rating, technologies will need to ensure that drivers are always looking at the road and are holding the wheel or are ready to grab it. Furthermore, the technologies must include warning systems and emergency procedures that are required when the driver does not comply with the above conditions.

“Partial automation systems may make long journeys seem cheaper, but there is no evidence that they make driving safer,” said IIHS President David Harkey. “In fact, it could be the other way around if systems don’t have adequate safeguards.”

Other requirements for getting a “good” rating include:

  • The safety procedure slows the vehicle, alerts the manufacturer, and keeps automation off limits for the rest of the ride.
  • Automated lane changes must be initiated or confirmed by the driver.
  • Adaptive cruise control does not reactivate automatically after a long stop or if the driver is not looking at the road.
  • Lane centering does not discourage the driver from turning.
  • The automation functions cannot be used with the seat belt unfastened.
  • The automation functions cannot be used with automatic emergency braking or lane departure prevention / warning disabled.

The IIHS intends to release the first round of partial automation assessments in 2022, although the organization noted that the exact release date remains uncertain due to continuing supply chain shortages making it more difficult to get cars to test.

“Nobody knows when we will have real self-driving cars, if ever. As automakers add partial automation to more and more vehicles, it’s critical they include effective safeguards that help drivers keep their heads in the game, ”Harkey said.

EXCESS RELIANCE TO PARTIAL AUTOMATION

Safety experts said they hope the new classification system will discourage motorists from relying too much on their cars’ partial automation systems, with many drivers becoming overly dependent on technologies, leading them to engage in dangerous driving behavior.

“The way many of these systems work gives people the impression that they are able to do more than they actually are,” said Alexandra Mueller, a researcher with IIHS, who leads the new assessment program.

“But even when drivers understand the limitations of partial automation, their minds can still wander. As humans, it is harder for us to stay alert when we look and wait for a problem to occur than when we drive ourselves, ”added Mueller.

In 2019, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety published research showing that drivers experienced with partial automation systems were nearly twice as likely to engage in distracted driving than drivers who were less familiar with the systems.

‘This new research suggests that as drivers gain more experience using Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) technology, they may develop complacency while driving,’ said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Road Safety. “Over-reliance on these systems can put drivers and others in dangerous conditions during critical moments.”

The AAA Foundation partnered with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute to observe and analyze the driving behavior of two groups of drivers using ADAS technology. The first group consisted of drivers who used their own vehicles and were already familiar with advanced systems. The second group of drivers were previously unfamiliar with the use of ADAS technology, but received a vehicle with the advanced systems to use during the four-week study.

Research showed that those familiar with advanced systems were 80% more likely to engage in distracted driving, such as texting or changing songs, while the systems were active than those who were less. familiarity.

According to Virginia Tech researchers, drivers’ dependence on ADAS increases as the individual becomes more comfortable with the technology. At first, drivers are less inclined to trust new systems, forcing them to remain alert while driving. However, as familiarity increases, drivers often become overly dependent on technology, making them more likely to participate in distracted driving.

“Advanced driver assistance technologies have a lot to offer in terms of comfort and safety, but they should never replace an attentive and committed driver,” said Dr. William Van Tassel, Head of AAA Driver Training Programs.

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