Drivers should not use driver-assistance technology like Autopilot, group warns

Although Americans can’t afford a fully autonomous vehicle yet, some motorists are treating technologies that take some of the driving task like their own personal driver, according to a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

For example, such technology may help prevent your car from veering into the other lane, but that doesn’t mean you should hold onto email from behind the wheel. Yet drivers who regularly use partial automation often operate their vehicles as if they were completely self-driving, the group said.

Cadillacs are more likely to eat or text when using partial automation systems with Super Cruise, Nissan/Infiniti Propilot Assist and Tesla Autopilot, according to results released Tuesday by IIHS.

The findings are based on surveys of nearly 600 Cadillac, Nissan/Infiniti and Tesla owners who regularly use their vehicle’s partial automation system. Alarmingly, 53% of Super Cruise users, 42% of Autopilot users and 12% of ProPilot Assist users said they were comfortable using their vehicles as fully self-driving.

According to Alexandra Muller, IIHS research scientist and lead author of the study, the results underscore the need for multifaceted safeguards.

“Many of these drivers said they had experiences where they had to handle driving suddenly because automation did something unexpected, sometimes when they were doing something they shouldn’t,” Muller said in a statement. was.”

The IIHS notes that most driver-assistance technology available today is designed to help with highway driving, with adaptive cruise control to allow the vehicle to travel at a set speed, at a slow speed, and a set distance from other cars. There are features like automatic sharpening to maintain.

Plus, lane centering systems provide steering support to help keep the vehicle in the middle of the road. Some systems are capable of changing lanes and other advanced maneuvers.

But “relying too much on hands-free or hands-on-wheel partial automation can lead drivers not to intervene, even if they see a dangerous situation in front of them creating because they wrongly believe the system is doing as much as it does.” can handle more than it was designed for, IIHS said in the report.

“poor understanding”

Yet none of the systems in use now are designed to replace a human driver or make it safer for the driver to do other things and take their eyes off the road.

“Early adopters of these systems still have a poor understanding of the technology’s limitations,” IIHS President David Harkey said in a statement. “It’s possible that systems design and marketing are compounding these misconceptions.”

For example, TV commercials for Cadillac’s Super Cruise system tout their hands-free abilities by patting drivers on their laps and clapping along to a song, the IIHS noted. The name Autopilot also implies that Tesla’s system is capable of more than it actually is, while ProPilot Assist indicates that it is an assist feature, not a replacement for the driver, the group added.

“Nissan is clearly communicating ProPilot Assist as a system to assist the driver, and this requires practical operation. The driver maintains control of the vehicle at all times,” the automaker said in an email.

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.

In an email to a spokesperson, GM said it is “important” for drivers to remain in control, noting that such engagement is “to operate any advanced driver assistance system in any vehicle we sell.” necessary for.”

The automaker said GM’s Driver Attention System is designed to ensure that a motorist’s attention is on the road during hands-free driving by monitoring the position and gaze of the driver’s head in relation to the road.

“When the system detects that the driver is not paying attention, a series of escalations will prompt the driver to reconnect. When using Super Cruise, the driver is responsible for operating the vehicle in a safe manner And he must be attentive to traffic, surroundings and road conditions at all times,” the GM said.

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