Advanced Driver Assistance Technology – Safety Solution or Dangerous Technology?

Advanced Driver Assistance Technology – Safety Solution or Dangerous Technology?Over 20,000 people died in car crashes during the first six months of 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Human error was the leading cause for most of these accidents. Car manufacturers continue to develop and assess advanced driver assistance technology as a means to avoid crashes due to human error. Advanced driver assistance technology is being heralded as a solution, but how safe is this technology?

The NHTSA has been compiling data on the safety of vehicles with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) since July of 2021. As these innovative driving features become more popular, the NHTSA aims to identify issues and problems quickly. The data has recently been released, and specifics can be found here.

What exactly is Driver Assistance Technology?

Driver assistance technology automates driving tasks in an effort to keep drivers, passengers, and pedestrians safe on the road. The technology continues to evolve and some of the most sought-after features are designed to warn of impending crashes, help a driver parallel park, keep a vehicle in its lane, and even stop a vehicle before an imminent crash. Some features include:

  • Collision Warning – a warning is provided when the automobile senses a possible forward collision, a lane departure collision, a rear cross traffic collision, or a blind spot collision.
  • Collision Intervention — the automobile takes action and applies automatic brakes when a forward collision, rear cross traffic collision, or blind spot collision is approaching.
  • Driving Control System – this includes cruise control, lane centering control, and a control to keep the vehicle in the lane.
  • Other Systems – these include technologies like automatic high beams which turn on when the vehicle senses they are needed, rear view video systems so a driver can see what is behind them while driving in reverse, and automatic crash notification which notifies emergency response teams when there is an accident.

The above list includes a small sampling of the new driver assistance features available to customers. There are many new features currently available and being developed, including self-driving software. Fully automated driving, when a car self-drives, is still just a dream for many manufacturers and drivers, but it is being assessed and piloted on local roads in many states. Tesla offers automated driving software packages, but the software is not fully complete and is reserved for certain Tesla customers. Most new vehicles offer some type of driving assistance, but a driver’s full attention is still imperative for safe operation. As with all technology, these advanced features can be misused and become dangerous.

How dangerous is this innovative technology?

The NHTSA initiated a Standing General Order mandating that all crashes and incidents involving vehicles equipped with advanced driver-assistance systems must be reported. An article in the New York Times stated that “NHTSA’s order for automakers to submit the data was prompted partly by crashes and fatalities over the last six years that involved Teslas operating in Autopilot.” Tesla’s Autopilot feature has been under scrutiny for numerous crashes and continues to be evaluated and reviewed by Tesla as well as the NHTSA.

Additionally, the Deputy Administrator of the NHTSA, Steven S. Cliff, Ph.D., introduced a rule amending the occupant protection Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSSs) to include future vehicles equipped with Automated Driving Systems (ADS). The rule can be found here.

The goal of the NHTSA is to keep drivers, passengers, and pedestrians safe while on the road. As the evolution of automated vehicles continues to grow and change, data must continue to be collected to ensure the features are safe to use.

What does the data show?

Crash data has been collected, and while there are limitations, the NHTSA found that 392 Level 2 ADAS   incidents were reported from July of 2021 to May 15, 2022. Level 2 ADAS refers to vehicles with advanced safety features, or driver assistance technologies. These vehicles are not fully automated. Tesla, Honda, and Subaru had the most reported Level 2 ADAS incidents, Tesla vehicles were involved in 273 of the accidents.

There were a total of ninety-eight severe crashes reported, with severe injury and fatalities included in eleven of those incidents. Six resulted in deaths and five with serious injuries. One hundred and sixteen of the collisions were with another vehicle, three collided with pedestrians, and one hit a cyclist. Most damage was to the front of vehicles. One hundred and twenty-five of the crashes were reported in California. The Summary Report can be found here.

Data was also collected for fully automated or self-driven vehicles which are being evaluated on some public roads. There were 130 incidents; fifteen resulted in minor or moderate injuries, and only one resulted in severe injury. Most of the fully automated incidents occurred while vehicles were stopped or at very low mileage.

The raw data is new and limited and does not provide a clear answer to the dangers of assisted driving technology. However, data continues to be collected, and features continue to be improved upon and evaluated for safety. As with any modern technology, there are growing pains. As consumers, we want to enjoy the recent technology, but be cautious, keep our eyes on the road, and hands on the wheel.

If you are the victim of a car crash injury in the Fort Lauderdale area due to advanced driver technology, we are here to help. At Yeboah Law Group, we can fight on your behalf for the financial compensation you deserve for your losses. To arrange a free consultation, call us today at 1-800-TELL-SAM, or submit our contact form today. We have offices in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Key West and Boca Raton. We also serve clients in Miami-Dade and all of South Florida.