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IIHS puts autonomous car safety systems to the test

Much has been said and written in Louisiana and around the country in recent years about the impact that autonomous automobile safety systems and self-driving cars will have on road safety. Some experts say that this technology will eliminate the human error that causes the overwhelming majority of motor vehicle accidents and save thousands of lives each year, but a study released recently by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety suggests that current autonomous systems are far from reliable and a great deal more development and testing is needed.

The nonprofit group tested the latest autonomous systems offered by Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, BMW and Tesla on both closed circuits and public roads, and they found that the technology often failed to notice stationary vehicles in the roadway and sometimes even steered toward dangerous situations. This may be concerning to road safety advocates because these are the same systems that the IIHS previously rated as being the best technology available. The results of the study were published on Aug. 7.

The IIHS researchers concluded that the automatic safety systems currently available could prevent accidents and save lives, but they were quick to point out that they are far from perfect and drivers should remain alert and vigilant while using them. They also observed that giving these systems names like Autopilot or Pilot Assist gave leads drivers to believe that they are far more capable than they actually are.

The kind of technology tested by the IIHS constantly monitors road conditions and gathers vast amounts of data. Some of this information, which is stored on vehicle data recorders, could prove valuable to personal injury attorneys pursuing compensation on behalf of car accident victims. Data recorders may reveal that motorists took no evasive action before crashing, had switched off safety systems or were exceeding posted speed limits at the time.

Source: CNBC, Testing finds flaws with car electronic car safety systems, Associated Press report, Aug. 7, 2018

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