Not a single advanced driver assistance system offered in new vehicles today would meet the safety criteria being developed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, according to the organization.
The nonprofit organization funded by car insurance companies said Thursday its new scoring program will assess the safeguards that “partial automation” vehicles use to help drivers stay focused on the road.
The IIHS will give systems good, fair, marginal, or poor ratings. The first set of ratings is expected to be released in 2022, the IIHS said, although it did not give a specific date as ongoing supply chain issues have made it more difficult to obtain vehicles for testing. .
“Partial automation systems may make long trips less painful, but there’s no evidence that they make driving safer,” IIHS President David Harkey said in a statement. “In fact, the opposite may be the case if the systems lack adequate safeguards.”
To achieve a ‘good’ rating, vehicles will need to be equipped with a driver monitoring system that ensures the driver’s eyes are on the road and their hands are either on the wheel or ready to grab at all times. , the organization said. These advanced driver assistance systems should also be equipped with escalating alerts and emergency procedures if a driver continues to ignore them.
The new IIHS ratings will not address other functional aspects of the systems that could also contribute to crashes, such as the ability of their cameras or radar sensors to identify obstacles.
Automakers are offering increasingly advanced driver assistance systems with an array of “partial automation” features. The most common is a feature that combines adaptive cruise control, which maintains a driver-selected speed and automatically slows to maintain a selected following distance, with the track centering which continuously adjusts the steering to help the driver keep the vehicle in the middle of the traffic lane. Automated lane changing is also becoming more common, the IIHS noted.
The IIHS’ decision to assess automated driving systems follows a regulatory and consumer advocacy trend aimed at policing automakers. Consumer Reports said it would start awarding points for partially automated driving systems with adequate driver monitoring systems. CR will also consider IIHS backup ratings once they become available.
Consumer Reports said its 2022 car top picks, to be announced Feb. 17, will include ratings for driver monitoring systems. The CR will add two points to a vehicle’s overall score if it is equipped with a system that encourages safe driving as part of the model’s active driver assistance package.
CR said only Ford’s BlueCruise and GM’s Super Cruise systems would earn those extra points.
CR said that in 2024 it will start docking two points from the overall score if the new vehicle is missing adequate supervision of the driver. This will increase to a four point loss from the 2026 models.
The IIHS noted that while most partial automation systems have some safeguards in place, none of them meet all of the organization’s pending criteria. This can lead to drivers intentionally or unintentionally pushing the system far beyond its safe operation.
“The way many of these systems work makes people feel like they’re capable of doing more than they really are,” said IIHS researcher Alexandra Mueller, who leads the new program. ranking. “But even when drivers understand the limits of partial automation, their minds can still wander. As humans, it’s harder for us to stay alert when we’re watching and waiting for a problem to arise than when we’re driving ourselves.
There are no so-called self-driving cars available to consumers, but that hasn’t stopped automakers from branding their systems in ways that confuse or overstate system capabilities.
Tesla has been widely criticized for the branding of its advanced Autopilot driver assistance system which is standard in its vehicles and the FSD (full self-driving) enhanced beta package which costs $12,000. But other automakers have also oversold their systems’ capabilities in marketing campaigns.