Automation of Cars is Resulting in More Bad Driving

August 24, 2017, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

We are becoming Lazy drivers as technology makes driving easier. Driver assist features that make basic driving easier has already resulted in driver’s sense of responsibility for the car operation relax.

It would seem that driver assist technologies like lane assist, parking assist, and backup assist, has had an unintended consequence - we are becoming worse drivers. Car manufacturers, safety experts and insurers all worry that as cars are more able to drive themselves, people are more likely to not use safety measures themselves.

It seems that as cars can do emergency braking and change lanes on their own, we become complacent about checking things ourselves. People are becoming too reliant, and complacent, and when they are driving without assist they are forgetting basic safety techniques like checking blind spots, and checking behind the car when backing up.  It appears that the easier the technology makes driving, the poorer the driver becomes. Drivers are also putting far too much faith in the new technologies.

Car manufacturers are very worried about this and are trying to find ways to keep drivers engaged with the task of driving, rather than using their phones. GM is reported to be installing eye-track technology in the Super Cruise feature coming later this year. The technology will allow drivers to take their hands off the wheel, but the eye tracker will require eyes to be kept on the road. Recognizing the enormous safety concerns and liability issues, Tesla, and Nissan have implemented limits on hands free driving when using autopilot like features.

Car manufacturers are recognizing how driving is changing and are beginning to undertake studies with universities about how drivers will need to be educated moving forward with technology. They are trying to anticipate what drivers will try as risky behaviors, and how to prevent that from happening.

Investigation of the crash involving a Tesla in self pilot mode last year showed that in the last 37 minutes of driving, the driver only had their hands on the wheel for 25 seconds. Automakers know that the public does not understand the nature of how the systems work. Partly this is due to every car manufacturer having different systems, different names and different capabilities. It is also due to driver ignorance.

CAA/AAA and the IIHS are urging governments to standardize features and the names in order to make it easier for people to understand how the technology works, its limits and the danger of abusing them. Insurers are holding their breath waiting to see the long-term impact of automation on the bottom line. The IBC has issued ‘call to action’ on driverless vehicles, and authored several papers on the importance of the changes coming to the industry. You can check those out here.

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