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Testing finds flaws with electronic car safety systems
August 7, 2018 by Tom Krisher
© Phys.org 2003 - 2018, Science X network
Source; excerpts follow:

MADG Disclaimer: PhysOrgis not a scientific journal; it is a research news provider intended for members of the general public who are interested in such subjects. Articles are typically based on press releases from schools and researchers. Research should be considered preliminary unless otherwise stated; I.E.: Not replicated and in some cases, not peer-reviewed.

I've written about some high-profile accidents involving Tesla vehicles… (They were high-profile because Elon Musk is high-profile)… but Tesla is not the only carmaker selling these types of technologies; all major carmakers are either providing or planning on providing these kinds of safety features. This research involved some high-end brands; not mentioned are the likes of Ford, Subaru, and Toyota. The technologies are becoming ubiquitous and, for safety's sake, one must believe that the shortcomings of some may apply to most… or all.


Cars and trucks with electronic driver assist systems may not see stopped vehicles and could even steer you into a crash if you're not paying attention, an insurance industry group warns.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in a paper titled "Reality Check," issued the warning Tuesday after testing five of the systems from Tesla, Mercedes, BMW and Volvo on a track and public roads. The upshot is while they could save your life, the systems can fail under many circumstances.

"We have found situations where the vehicles under semi-automated control may do things that can put you and your passengers at risk, and so you really need to be on top of it to prevent that from happening," said David Zuby, the institute's chief research officer…

The article notes, for the Tesla Models 3 and S, the Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) is much less reliable unless it's used with the adaptive cruise control. (It braked but still hit a stationary balloon target.) But then Tesla gets a kudo:


On the road, the institute's engineers found that all the vehicles but Tesla's Model 3 failed to respond to stopped vehicles ahead of them, the institute said…

That's a MAJOR concern right there. I know of two incidents wherein cars being operated with these technologies crashed into parked fire trucks! You know, those big, honking vehicles that are carefully designed to be as highly visible as possible? The cars apparently didn't "see" them, and we know the drivers didn't. PAY ATTENTION!


… Many of the scenarios discovered by IIHS are covered in the vehicles' owner's manuals, which tell drivers they have to pay attention. But Zuby said not many people read their owner's manuals in detail. Even though the systems have names like Tesla's "Autopilot" or Volvo's "Pilot Assist," they are not self-driving vehicles, Zuby said. "They will help you with some steering or speed control but you really better be paying attention because they don't always get it right," he said.

Many of the cars' lane-centering systems failed, especially on curves or hills. The BMW, Model S and Volvo "steered toward or across the lane line regularly," requiring driver intervention, the IIHS said…

And there it is: These systems are designed to work with an attentive driver. Do not surrender your responsibilities to these technologies; doing so may result in in tragic and catastrophic consequences, and YOU will be held responsible because YOU are the driver. "My car didn't see the fire truck" is not a valid excuse.

When an attentive driver uses these technologies responsibly, they can and do make the roads safer for all.



The group also said a pedestrian death in Arizona involving an Uber autonomous vehicle shows the dangers of testing self-driving vehicles on public roads… IIHS is developing ratings for driver assist systems and eventually will make recommendations on regulations for fully autonomous vehicles, Zuby said.

Although I don't disagree, I don't like the inclusion here. Don't muddy the difference between "driver assist" and "autonomous"; that's part of the problem. People hear about "self-driving" cars, then they buy something with these newer technologies; what do you think is going to happen?

I think the automakers (and resellers) need to be a lot more proactive in educating and warning car-buyers about the limitations of these systems, and the importance of staying focused on driving the car. Indeed, just today I was wondering whether driving schools and educators are stressing driver attention (or just how to pass the test); there seems to be an epidemic of folks behind the wheel who don't recognize its significance.

I love driving (even when it's frustrating) and so should everyone; it represents mobility and independence. But with freedom comes responsibility, and that includes giving your full attention to what you're doing, regardless of whatever kinds of technologies make it a little easier.

Drive safe and enjoy!

2 Comments On This Entry

Wait, we have driving schools in the U.S.?

Censport, on 20 August 2018 - 02:41 PM, said:

Wait, we have driving schools in the U.S.?

Apparently they're called interstates.
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