RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — There’s a dangerous trend developing among drivers whose cars use partial automation systems.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says many drivers using those systems treat them as completely self-driving– which increases the risk of crashes.
Completely self-driving vehicles are still in the experimental stage, but a lot of people who own vehicles with partial automation systems mistakenly think the cars can drive themselves.
“A lot of people who own these vehicles seem to think they have more capacity than they actually do,” said Jessica Cicchino, the vice president for research at The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
How does the IHHS know that?
It interviewed 600 drivers with partial automation systems — 200 owners of Cadillac’s Super Cruise, 200 Tesla Autopilot owners and 200 owners of Nissan’s with Pro Pilot assist.
Many of those drivers told researchers they thought they could treat their vehicles as self-driving cars.
“There’s a lot of different factors that could possibly come into play into how drivers perceive their systems,” said Cicchino.
The institute believes automakers are overselling the capacities of their partial automation systems which are designed to assist drivers — not replace them.
Cicchino said the names automakers choose to market the systems help propagate their misuse by some drivers.
“Absolutely we think names and marketing play a role,” she said. “Those ads we see with people clapping their hands and doing all sorts of things that aren’t driving when they are driving.”
Take the name Autopilot.
“People thought they could text, or even sleep or read when there’s a system called Autopilot,” she said.
The institute also says some automakers are not doing a good job of warning about the misuse of those partially automated systems.
“Some changes could include having better sensing technology to know if a driver is looking away from the road or not,” she said. “We would also want warnings that get more annoying if people aren’t paying attention over time.”
Federal officials have established specific criteria for fully automated vehicles, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration designating it as level 5 automation.
Currently, we are at level 2 automation given the current state of technology.