Ford Authority

IIHS Says Partial Automation Inadequately Regulated

Though partial automation has become incredibly popular – and common – in newer vehicles, many questions remain about just how safe these types of systems are. Aside from a handful of high-profile crashes that have occurred when Tesla’s Autopilot feature was enabled, Ford is also facing an investigation from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) pertaining to two fatal crashes that occurred when Ford Mustang Mach-E owners had BlueCruise engaged as well. Now, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is arguing that partial automation isn’t regulated well enough at the moment.

Ford Mustang Mach-E BlueCruise Spain - Interior 001

“Federal regulators have struggled to stay ahead of the risks that come with innovations,” said David Kidd, Senior Research Scientist, IIHS. “Commonsense guardrails are missing, and a lack of crash-reporting requirements have left researchers like me without the robust data we need to evaluate the safety of these systems. Automation has the potential to reduce or eliminate human mistakes and enhance safety, but we have yet to find consistent evidence that existing automated systems make driving safer. What is clear is that automation can introduce new, often foreseeable, risks. Unfortunately, by not requiring complete data about crashes involving automation, NHTSA has made it harder to reduce these risks.”

“Because of NHTSA’s inaction, IIHS has stepped into the role of de facto regulator,” Kidd added. “We developed and recently rolled out a ratings program that encourages manufacturers to incorporate safeguards to help ensure drivers use the technology responsibly and appropriately. But this program doesn’t address all the issues with automation. And while automakers often respond to our ratings by improving the safety of their products, unlike NHTSA, we can’t compel them to make changes.”

This call to action comes after a group of U.S. Senators sent a letter to the NHTSA last month urging that agency to address these concerns and require automakers to provide more complete reporting in regards to the use of automation in crashes. Revised ratings systems from the IIHS have recently found BlueCruise – and several other partially automated systems – to be inadequate, which is what prompted these calls in the first place.

We’ll have more on the future of partial autonomy soon, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for 24/7 Ford news coverage.

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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