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Semi-Automatic Cars & Distracted Driving Deaths


Link Between Semi-Autonomous Cars and Distracted Driving Deaths

The MIT Technology Review recently published an article about the potential increase in distracted driving deaths as we see more semi-autonomous cars deployed on U.S. roadways. With the exclusion of the high-profile fatal crash involving the semi-autonomous Tesla earlier this year, initial reports on self-driving cars show that they’re handling highway driving reasonably well.

Unfortunately, as with most injury-causing and fatal crashes, the potential for human error still exists. Safety advocates are concerned with the potential for an increase in distracted driving deaths due to "drivers" of semi-autonomous vehicles having their focus ​on distractions, rather than the roadway.

Human Error and Fatal Crashes

Statistics continue to show that the greatest factor involved in injury-causing and fatal crashes is human error. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 94% of all crashes on U.S. roadways are caused by human error or choice. With the number of fatal crashes on the rise, safety officials are hoping that the deployment of more semi-autonomous vehicles will help to curb the rise of crashes.

Semi-Autonomous vs. Autonomous Vehicles

Safety officials hope that when roadways are filled with fully autonomous vehicles, the possibility of human error will be greatly diminished. At this time, we’re seeing an increase in the deployment of semi-autonomous vehicles. In other words, they aren’t fully self-driving. And, although they can operate autonomously in certain situations, they still depend greatly on the driver to pay attention. In addition, there’s still serious concern that drivers of semi-autonomous vehicles can be lulled into distraction.

Semi-Autonomous Cars and Driver Alerts

At this time, most of the safety methods implemented in semi-autonomous cars involve alert systems. If there is a problem or driving situation that the car is not able to confidently handle. To take control of the vehicle, the car alerts the driver. In theory, that makes sense. But what if the driver, whose attention is on his or her phone or a passenger, ignores the alert or fails to act in time because of the distraction? If a driver is distracted, will he or she be able to react in time to take positive control of the situation?

Concerns About Semi-Autonomous Vehicle Safety

There are still many lingering questions and concerns about the future impact of semi-autonomous vehicles. Does the car’s ability to be partially autonomous lull the driver into a false sense of security and foster an atmosphere that could potentially lead to greater distraction behind the wheel? The MIT Technology Review points out that the current alert system in semi-autonomous vehicles might not be sufficient to adequately transfer drivers back to full control of the car in time to safely avoid hazards and dangerous situations. There’s even some concern that the current system could increase the rate of crashes due to distracted driving.

U.S. DOT’s Federal Policy for Automated Vehicles

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently issued its four-part policy that lays the foundation for safe testing and deployment of automated vehicles on U.S. roadways. In addition, the NHTSA is hoping to develop a nationwide framework of policy at the federal and state levels. This framework is a standardized 15 point safety assessment. U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) officials are hoping that the new policy will help to increase safety as more automated vehicles deploy on the road.

Listed below are the four points of the NHTSA’s new Federal Policy for Automated Vehicles.

NHTSA’s Four-Point Policy for Automated Vehicles

  • 15-Point Safety Assessment for manufacturers and developers
  • Model State Policy to generate a consistent national framework of policy
  • NHTSA’s Current Regulatory Tools to improve roadway safety
  • Modern Regulatory Tools to take developing technological advancements into account for the evolving U.S. automotive landscape

Distracted Driving Accidents in Conroe

Distracted driving is an epidemic in Conroe and in cities and towns across the nation. Drivers aren’t devoting their full and undivided attention to the task of driving. They’re putting their own lives and the lives of others at risk.

If you have been injured or if you have lost a loved one in a car accident involving a distracted driver in or around the Conroe area, contact the Scott Law Firm at (936) 243-4299 for a free case consultation today.