IIHS Releases First Partial Driving Automation Safety Ratings, and Most Systems Fall Short

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has released a new ratings program for partial driving automation system.

Among the first 14 systems assessed, only one managed an acceptable rating, with two rated marginal and the remaining 11, including Tesla’s, earning poor ratings, revealing significant room for improvement across the automotive industry, and highlighting the need for automakers to integrate more effective safeguards to prevent misuse and ensure drivers remain engaged with the driving process.

The IIHS study focused on safeguards like driver monitoring, attention reminders, emergency procedures, driver involvement, and safety feature integration to evaluate the effectiveness of the partial automation systems. The results indicate that most systems, including Tesla’s, lack robust measures to ensure that the driver’s focus remains on the road and that they are prepared to take control of the vehicle at any moment.

Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving systems received “poor” ratings from the IIHS. Tesla says Autopilot makes their vehicles significantly safer than those without it, but the IIHS’s findings disagree, suggesting a disconnect between perceived safety enhancements and the system’s actual performance in safeguarding against driver disengagement.

Some drivers may feel that partial automation makes long drives easier, but there is little evidence it makes driving safer. As many high-profile crashes have illustrated, it can introduce new risks when systems lack the appropriate safeguards.

IIHS President David Harkey

However, it is important to note that the IIHS tests were conducted before the NHTSA forced Tesla to initiate an over-the-air (OTA) recall to improve Autopilot and FSD safeguards late last year.

Systems like Lexus Teammate and GM Super Cruise met the criteria set by the IIHS for attention reminders, by providing audible and visual warnings followed by emergency procedures if the driver failed to respond. The agency noted that Tesla’s FSD “performed almost as well” in reminder drivers to keep their attention on the road ahead.

In the end, none of the 14 systems evaluated met all the requirements set by IIHS. The agency however expects manufacturers to make rapid improvements to their systems through regular software updates.

You can read the full IIHS report here.

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