Robot Cars Won’t Retire Crash-Test Dummies Any Time Soon

IIHS Report on self-driving cars

Ruckersville, VA (Nov. 14, 2016) – Judging from the headlines, one might think dealer lots are brimming with cars that allow drivers to clock out while radar, cameras and other sensors do the navigating. Though the U.S. market is inching toward that reality, consumers can’t buy fully self-driving cars and likely won’t be able to for many years.

The idea is tantalizing, not only for the convenience factor but also because it offers the potential for a crash-free future. While that vision may one day come to fruition, it is far too early to retire the Institute’s crash-test dummies. There will be many crashes on the road to Vision Zero.

In the near term, the best way to reduce the risk is to renew focus on tried-and-true countermeasures, such as increasing safety belt use and reducing alcohol-impaired driving, and to continue pushing automakers to improve the crashworthiness of vehicles while refining driver assistance systems to address more kinds of crashes.

“The rhetoric has jumped ahead of the technology in many cases,” says Adrian Lund, IIHS president. “What many people think of as a self-driving car doesn’t exist yet. I can’t hop in my car, enter a destination and have it take me from point A to point B.

“What I can do is activate adaptive cruise control to maintain a safe following distance and speed, use lane-keeping assist to center my car and blind-spot assist to monitor adjacent travel lanes. These technologies improve my daily commute and add a layer of safety, but I am still the driver. I can’t fall asleep at the wheel.”

Read the report for an easy-to-read summary of the state of self-driving cars.

About the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is an independent, nonprofit scientific and educational organization dedicated to reducing the losses – deaths, injuries and property damage – from crashes on the nation’s roads. For decades, IIHS has been a leader in finding out what works and doesn’t work to prevent motor vehicle crashes from happening in the first place and to minimize injuries in the crashes that still occur.

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