IIHS: driver-assist features must keep drivers’ attention

Following in the steps of NHTSA and other agencies that have studied driver-assist systems, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has issued some recommendations to help make this technology safer. Texas motorists who are excited about the progress being made in this field need to make sure they understand the shortcomings.

It is well-known that driver-assist systems, which are considered Level Two autonomous systems (Level Five denoting a fully automated vehicle), can cause drivers to lose focus. The reason is that they overestimate the driver-assist features, presuming that they make the car self-driving, and let themselves become distracted out of a false sense of security.

While a lack of education may be partly to blame, the fact that some features will work as long as there is steering wheel input is more worrisome. This is where the IIHS’s recommendations come in. The non-profit gives three in particular: Monitor the driver with an in-car camera, create sensors for the steering wheel that measure how quickly a driver responds and have a series of alerts go off when the system senses that the driver is distracted.

Many crashes are linked to inattention caused by driver-assist systems. For example, the fatally injured driver of a Tesla Model X was found to have been playing a game on his phone when on Autopilot.

Those who are injured in car accidents caused by inattentive drivers may seek compensation from the negligent party. It may be hard to prove that the defendant was negligent if there are no phone records or eyewitness testimony, for instance, but it would not be impossible. Victims are advised to have the assistance of a lawyer throughout the process.