Washington residents should be aware that the driver-assist systems found in many newer vehicles have been linked with serious, sometimes fatal, accidents. In March 2018, for example, a driver was killed after he engaged Autopilot on his Tesla Model X and proceeded to play a mobile game behind the wheel.
These systems have received scrutiny from regulatory bodies like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Now, the non-profit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has released its own report on the risk posed by driver-assist systems and what can be done about it. The main thing is that the systems lull drivers into a false sense of security, believing as they do that features like lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control suddenly make their car self-driving.
The makers of driver-assist systems, on the other hand, are not doing enough to prevent this complacency and inattention behind the wheel. Many systems do not monitor for inattention but simply require a hand on the steering wheel to continue operating. The IIHS recommended three measures to rectify the situation.
One is to add more methods for detecting inattention, such as cameras inside the car. The second is to have sensors in the steering wheel to check for delayed reactions. Third, alarms should be made to go off when drivers are inattentive.
Whether or not these recommendations are followed, drivers must still keep their car under control regardless of what features are enabled. There are as yet no fully automated vehicles on the road. Those injured in car crashes with semi-automated vehicles can pursue a case against the driver, but it’s another matter to prove negligence and negotiate for a fair settlement. This is where legal representation may come in handy. If a settlement cannot be agreed upon, the lawyer may assist with litigation.