Your car's automated safety features are probably making driving less safe

Originally published at: Your car's automated safety features are probably making driving less safe | Boing Boing


Another study on the topic that supports what you discuss.

The findings, published recently in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention, revealed that drivers can become over-reliant on AV technology. This was especially true with a type of in-vehicle display the team dubbed “takeover request and automation capability,” or TORAC.

A “takeover request” asks the driver to take vehicle control when automation is not able to handle a situation, while “automation capability” indicates how close the automation is to its limit.

“Drivers find themselves in situations where, although they are not actively driving, they are still part of the driving task – they must be monitoring the vehicle and step in if the vehicle fails,” says Donmez.

“And these vehicles fail – it’s just guaranteed. The technology on the market right now is not mature enough to the point where we can just let the car drive and we go to sleep. We are not at that stage yet.”


Adaptive cruise control is only useful for highway driving- and only then as a system to warn you to check your driving. Just as blind spot warning shouldn’t be how you check whether to change lanes.

You shouldn’t rely on them to drive for you.


We are engaged in a struggle to see whether cities and streets are for people, or for car companies (ICE or electric, doesn’t matter). It’s the same struggle to see whether the planet is for billionaires or for billions of people.

I’ve long held that the only realistic strategy for self driving cars is regulatory capture and the creation of infrastructure that is even more hostile for people and in which all non-self driving cars will be, by law, responsible for crashes.


Car-centric design is toxic to cities in so many ways, since the days of Robert Moses if not earlier. This video discusses, with quantitative data, how it currently distorts municipal property tax regimes.

There are shifts for the positive going on. I’ve noticed in a couple of cities I’ve been in lately that new or planned high-density buildings – especially those along major mass transit routes – limit parking spaces to about 1/3 of the units maximum. The pandemic also spurred moves to bar car traffic within certain streets or neighbourhoods to resident vehicles only. And in California, “jaywalking” – the most prominent and long-standing example of automobile-company-sponsored legislation – has just been de-criminalised.


The large increase in fatalities in 2021 over 2020 was largely due to a large increase in miles driven, according to the article linked in Zipper’s article. This makes sense. People stayed home in 2020 because of the pandemic. In 2021 they hit the road again, resulting in a dramatic increase in total miles driven and an entirely predictable increase in accidents and deaths.

I see articles like this every few years about the latest safety advancement. Zipper’s article even mentions a 1975 study that argued that seat belt mandates led to an increase in accidents. So, what, we should go back to not wearing seatbelts? I don’t think anyone would seriously argue that. If you look at traffic deaths by year, there’s a pretty consistent downward trend over time. There’s a stair-step pattern to it, though, which I think suggests that when new safety technology is introduced, it can lead to a temporary increase in deaths, because of a combination of people adjusting to it and bugs being worked out of the technology. Eventually, the new tech makes cars safer. Yes, there were over 40,000 deaths in 2021, which was a 16 year high. But in 1970, there were over 55,000 vehicle deaths, and that was with 1/3 of the total miles driven, and a significantly smaller population.


Exactly. I drive a Honda with all the tech. The ACC is useful for adjusting to the erratic driver in front of you, and as an extra set of eyes, but cannot see very far down the road, so that stopped car 50 yds down the road is inside your stopping distance before the radar sees it. The LKAS is hit and miss at best. My biggest worry about this stuff is that it makes it feel “safer” to take your eyes off the road to return that text or whatever. That is terrifying. It is very, very far from autonomous driving as yet. Useful as an assistant, but hang up and drive.


This is true, but it’s also clear that, during that adjustment period, drivers have to be reminded that the new safety feature doesn’t mean they can stop paying attention while driving or otherwise behave recklessly behind the wheel. That’s why articles about these studies are published in the mass media.


Cars are much safer for the occupants now. Irish data shows fewer crashes per person and fewer drastic outcomes per crash for the occupants of cars. Road deaths are also down* due to the fact that modern car-centric design, the size of the current suburban tanks, and hegemony, mean that other people stay the fuck off the road because it isn’t safe. Seriously. People car centric design is not a safe environment for anyone not inside a car.

*exception for the months of strict lockdown in 2020 - March to June - where road killings rocketed as there were more pedestrians and drivers were less constrained by congestion which is the only thing keeping them from driving too fast in built up areas.


The podcast Cautionary Tales covered how increased safety measures lead to more accidents/ When the autopilot switched off


But they don’t. Not over the long term. The data just doesn’t support that. Again, there were over 55,000 vehicle deaths in 1970, with less than 1/3 the total number of miles driven. 2021 had just over 40,000 deaths, and that was a 16 year high. Automobile safety technology hasn’t just made driving a little safer, it’s made it nearly an order of magnitude safer.


Okay, but what kind of “safety” technology?

There’s multiple airbags, better designed frames and the like that obviously saves more lives, and then there’s “driver-assistance” technology like lane correction that can make it more likely drivers will take their eyes off the road.

Makes sense to me that while one decreases accidents and deaths, the other increases them. And if one outweighs the other in terms of reduced deaths, that doesn’t mean the other isn’t still a problem.


Again, as I said earlier, they’ve argued in the past that seat belts made people drive less safely. And the data supported that…in the short term. People are making the same mistake climate change deniers make and focusing on short term data rather than long term data. I’ve seen this same article with respect to seat belts, motorcycle helmets, air bags, antilock brakes, and every other safety device that’s been developed. And in this case, we really can’t ignore the effect the pandemic had on this data.


This is a great idea.


Boston is the only place Ive been honked at for not running a red light.

“Most accidents in Boston happen when two drivers try to go for the same pedestrian” – someone who probably wasn’t joking

Amusingly I’m 98% sure the dashboard you picked is not from a gas guzzler, it looks like an EV to me.

Or who you know, want to test them out? (ok, “lets point the cr at that group of kids playing b-ball in the middle of the road and see if it stops itself!”)

(do I actually need to tag this as sarcasm? Just in case it isn’t obvious: that is a super bad idea, don’t do it! My car came with a magic pedestrian avoider, I have no idea if it works. It also has a “lane drift indicator” which I know for a fact doesn’t work. Also a magic “slow down now or die” system of some sort that triggered once because I made a perfectly safe left turn it didn’t like, and once for an actual good reason so I don’t know if it is to be trusted or not. I didn’t actually attempt to buy any of those things, it was one of those “we can only sell you what is on the lot” deals, they either came as part of a trim package where I wanted some of the options, or maybe almost none of the options)

Yep, and the majority of the time drivers are not nearly as involved if they let a car drive itself. So the “human backup” is going to be given control of a car in an already bad situation and really isn’t going to be able to figure out what to do quickly enough. Which is why I think self driving cars that fall short of being fully trusted are a bad idea. If the car can’t drive itself as well as the human (or better) we are just making it more dangerous. (can the self driving system deal with a ladder falling off the work truck in front of it, or does it just hand it off to the driver who hasn’t really been paying close attention, doesn’t know if the left or right lanes are clear and might only be slightly aware that a ladder is falling off the truck. Does it deal with other similar situations? (& as much as I dislike Elon Musk, I’m going to need to admit I have a friend with a FSD Tesla and it did deal with a ladder falling off a truck in front of him, in his opinion far better then he would have, which doesn’t mean it deals with other stuff like that, but makes me vaguely hopeful))


Adaptive Cruise Control is fine most of the time for highway driving, but if a car swerves into your lane or cuts you off with no warning, your car will suddenly decelerate dramatically to provide space for this new car AND the braking distance you need between your car and that idiot, which can seriously screw up crowded roads because every car behind you gets no warning, either, and can’t see that you were the one being cut off.


My 2019 vehicle will beep annoyingly if it thinks I’m approaching something too quickly. It’s not terribly good at this; it will sometimes beep annoyingly (and it’s loud!) when nothing seems to be threatening it. It’s the equivalent of having a passenger randomly yell things at unexpected moments.

Which keeps me constantly on my toes, and I haven’t had an accident yet. So maybe it’s working.


It’s happened to me when I first moved out west. Everywhere I’ve ever lived, a red right arrow meant no turn on red. But I’ve learned that in Oregon and Washington it means the same thing as a red light—you can turn right after a stop if it’s clear.

(Also, they have a flashing left yellow arrow here, which means you can cautiously turn left when it’s clear. Everywhere else called that a green light. Oregon has awful traffic signage.)


If only we could have “self driving” cars, oh wait…


That’s what I scream everytime I see someone driving erratically, because they are either on their gods-thrice-damned phone/tablet/laptop(!), or drunk.

Granted, as I’ve gotten older, I’m also driving in a manner best described as “assertively defensive”- While it still boggles my mind on how people do not manage to see a full size truck, I tend to keep out of people’s blind spots, give them room, etc.

You know, like all the things that the driver’s ed class sort of taught.

On the whole, cars are MUCH safer than the stuff cranked out in the 60’s and 70’s- you have a much higher chance of surviving due to the air bags, seat belts, and crumple zones (which are designed to sacrifice the car in order to save the passengers) as opposed to something from the mid 50’s or early 60’s.

I completely agree that the driver assistance features are still not-quite ready for prime time; FSD is not even ready, in my arrogant opinion, for beta testing and yet here we are.