Does Self-Driving Technology Make Us Safer on The Road?

A recent study by the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) challenges the notion that self-driving technology inherently makes our roads safer. The study examined various assisted-driving systems, including Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self Driving technology, along with offerings from other major automakers. Surprisingly, the IIHS gave poor ratings to Tesla’s technology as well as to nine other systems, citing a lack of evidence for real-world safety benefits.

IIHS President David Harkey emphasized the importance of data-driven analysis, noting that insurance claims data showed no reduction in claims for vehicles equipped with more advanced driving systems. In contrast, there is evidence supporting the effectiveness of automatic emergency braking systems in reducing rear-end collisions and incidents involving pedestrians.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has previously claimed that vehicles using Autopilot are significantly safer than the U.S. average, but federal regulators are investigating nearly 1,000 accidents involving Autopilot. A civil case in California further tests Tesla’s stance on driver responsibility when using their technology.

The study highlights the absence of federal regulations governing advanced-driver assistance systems (ADAS), leading the IIHS to develop its own standards for evaluation. Only one system, Lexus Teammate with Advanced Drive, received an acceptable rating, while others, including GM’s Super Cruise and Nissan’s ProPILOT Assist, received marginal ratings.

Automakers responded differently to the ratings, with Toyota emphasizing its commitment to safety testing programs and GM positioning Super Cruise as an enhancement rather than a safety feature. Despite poor overall ratings, automakers are urged to adopt existing technology to improve safety scores.

In response to the findings, automakers like Tesla and BMW are continuously enhancing their systems, with Tesla revising its Autopilot software following a federal recall agreement. Additionally, Genesis, a luxury brand under Hyundai, is introducing an in-cabin camera to monitor drivers’ attention during assisted driving, indicating a proactive approach to safety enhancement.

While self-driving technology holds promise for improving road safety, the IIHS study underscores the need for rigorous evaluation and regulatory oversight to ensure these systems deliver on their safety promises.

Posted: Mike Smith


Share This Article
Leave a comment