IIHS: how to prevent inattention caused by driver-assist systems

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has issued a report on driver-assist systems and the dangers that they pose. Connecticut residents should know that current vehicles come with Level Two automation, which means they can control certain aspects of driving, such as accelerating and centering the vehicle in its lane, while still requiring driver input. Yet many drivers are under the impression that this input is unnecessary and that the car drives itself.

Driver-assist systems, which include features like lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking, are factoring into an increasing number of crashes. For example, back in March 2018, the driver of a Tesla Model X engaged Autopilot and began to play a mobile game when he crashed and died.

Regulatory bodies like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have long been scrutinizing the effects of driver-assist systems. The IIHS provides some interesting recommendations in its report, though.

It should be noted that some systems only monitor for driver inattention through steering wheel input. Three specific recommendations were made to rectify this: Have multiple monitoring methods, such as in-car cameras, make sensors that record manual adjustments to the steering wheel and measure the quickness of drivers’ reactions, and create a series of alarms in the event that drivers do grow inattentive.

Distracted driving is widespread: more widespread than official figures would suggest because not every crash caused by distraction is reported as such. Those who are injured in car collisions and who were not at fault may file a claim against the other driver, but they might find it difficult to prove negligence. It may be a good idea to consult an attorney, then. The attorney might evaluate the case under Connecticut’s modified comparative fault rule and determine how much victims might be eligible for in damages.