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Partial Automation Doesn’t Prevent Crashes: Study

Back in May, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released a report arguing that partial automation systems like Ford’s BlueCruise aren’t regulated well enough at the moment, adding that it had “yet to find consistent evidence that existing automated systems make driving safer,” and in fact, it believes that such systems can actually introduce new risks into the driving experience. These sentiments have also been echoed by lawmakers, who previously called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to require automakers to provide more complete reporting in regards to the use of partial automation in crashes.

Ford Mustang Mach-E BlueCruise Spain - Interior 001

Now, the IIHS has released a new report, this time, claiming that partial automation doesn’t help prevent crashes at all. “Everything we’re seeing tells us that partial automation is a convenience feature like power windows or heated seats rather than a safety technology,” said IIHS President David Harkey. The agency conducted a study that backs up these claims, as it found that that partial automation in vehicles doesn’t offer up any additional safety benefits beyond those of existing crash avoidance features like automatic emergency braking (AEB).

The problem, it seems, stems from the fact that these systems aren’t being used properly. The IIHS argues that many consumers view these features as fully autonomous, though in reality, they require drivers to continue to pay attention to the road ahead even when they’re activated and handling things like acceleration, braking, and steering, which has led to some high-profile crashes in recent months.

Ford Mustang Mach-E BlueCruise Spain - Interior 002

“With no clear evidence that partial automation is preventing crashes, users and regulators alike should not confuse it for a safety feature,” said Jessica Cicchino, senior vice president for research at IIHS. “At a minimum, safeguards like those IIHS promotes through its rating program are essential to reduce the risks that drivers will zone out or engage in other distracting activities while partial automation is switched on.”

Previously, the IIHS assigned both BlueCruise and Ford’s adaptive cruise control features “poor” ratings in terms of their operation and potential to reduce the risk of an accident, so this isn’t exactly shocking news. The agency also previously pointed out that repairing vehicles equipped with crash avoidance tech can be a problem as well, as around half of the users it surveyed who had their vehicles fixed following a crash experienced issues with those features later on.

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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Comments

  1. David Dickinson II

    “they require drivers to continue to pay attention to the road ahead” That being the case, why bother with the technology at all? Drivers need to drive.

    Reply
  2. Boomer

    If the folks using these Self Driving Features can’t pay attention to the Road and their Surroundings and “BE READY” to “TAKE OVER” control of Said Vehicle????? Then if you Crash, and or Hurt, Maim, or God Forbid Kill someone and or Yourself, Then “YOU” Pay the Consequences for your Actions or the Lack There Of!!! And that Includes GOING TO JAIL for whatever the Charge May be. We have Enough People in our STATE THAT CAN’T DRIVE NOW, and a Few have Crashed into Barriers on the Freeway’s Using the FSD or Bluecruise etc etc Features on the Vehicles, Good Lord Have Mercy it scares me to think these Folks are using these Features and “THEY” Can’t Drive in the First Place!!!! O. M. G.

    Reply

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