A great many of the new cars, pickup trucks and SUVs on sale in Florida and around the country are equipped with advanced driver-assistance features like adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane departure and blind spot monitoring. Automobile manufacturers say these systems can prevent accidents and save lives even when drivers are unaware of dangerous situations and take no evasive action, but a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has raised questions about these claims.
Almost 400 accidents
The NHTSA says that its June 2022 study was the first large-scale investigation into the effectiveness of semiautonomous automotive safety systems in real-world situations. The agency ordered carmakers to provide information about crashes involving vehicles with driver-assistance technology in 2021. The data reveals that cars equipped with these features have been involved in 392 motor vehicle accidents that claimed six lives and caused five serious injuries.
Figures from the Department of Transportation suggest that manufacturers may not be aware of how many of their vehicles are crashing. According to a recent report from the road safety agency, vehicles with advanced safety systems were involved in 605 accidents between July 2021 and October 2022. Almost 80% of these crashes involved Tesla vehicles equipped with the Autopilot self-driving feature. Tesla claims that its technology is safe, and the company says most accidents involving cars equipped with Autopilot are caused by driver error.
Car makers have long claimed that their vehicles are more capable than they actually are. This may not cause much harm when performance or fuel economy figures are inflated, but it can be deadly when the capabilities of safety features are exaggerated. Drivers should remain vigilant at all times even if their vehicles are equipped with the latest electronic safety systems, and auto makers must tone down their advertising hyperbole.