Uh-oh: Advanced driver assistance systems are making us all bad drivers | ZDNet

Headlines are quick hits from media outlets from Missouri and around the world. Follow the headline link for the full story. The source of this headline says:

Advanced driver assistance systems are becoming on the norm even on midlevel cars. For safety advocates that seems like good news: Systems designed to prevent crashes should, after all, result in fewer crashes.

But what if that thinking is flawed? A new report from AAA suggests that might be the case and that our increasing use of driver assistance systems may actually be resulting in higher rates of distracted driving.

"This study drives home that engaged drivers are the key to staying safe," says Stefan Heck, CEO of Nauto, which makes driver monitoring technology. "Current ADAS only look at what's in front of the vehicle and we know 94% of collisions involve human error which you can only detect by understanding what the driver is doing. Distracted driving is surging as the next major health epidemic, the top cause of fatal and injury collisions. It's imperative that automakers embed technology that doesn't lull drivers into a false sense of security--and instead keeps them focused on the road no matter what."

MoBikeFed comment: Technology has really excellent potential to improve roadway safety and reduce the tens of thousands of fatalities and millions of roadway injuries suffered by Americans each year.

But we need to take a really critical look at how technology really works, what quality and safety standards it is designed to, and how human factors and technology interact.

In short, we want to ensure that we are really creating a safer environment, not simply putting blind trust in technology.

One flaw with the driver assistance technology used in American cars is that, to this point, it has not even been designed or tested to detect or react to pedestrian or bicyclists, who are legal and common users of our roadways.

If drivers become used to trusting technology to keep a lookout, but the technology is designed and tested to only detect certain types of hazards, the results will not be good.

And we need to be certain that technology does not improve safety for one user group (motor vehicle occupants, for example) while decreasing safety for other users (people who walk and bicycle, for example).

Testing whether driver assistance systems detect people who walk and bicycle has been common in other countries, but not in the U.S.--until recently, when a coalition of state and local bicycle & pedestrian advocacy groups, including the Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Federation worked to raise the profile of this issue.

Most recently the League of American Bicyclists has worked with federal agencies who oversee this type of testing and standards-setting, and we are starting to see progress.