Data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that drivers often take both hands off the wheel when using automated systems within their vehicles. At first, drivers show little difference in engagement, but as they become more comfortable with their vehicle’s capabilities, their attention starts to slip. One month after using the vehicle, drivers were more than twice as likely to show disengagement compared to the beginning of the study.
This is concerning, especially considering car manufacturers and lawmakers do not intend these systems to take the place of the driver. System’s like Tesla’s Autopilot and Mercedes’ Intelligent Drive cannot negotiate all the obstacles that may appear on the roadways. Instead of paying attention, researchers are voicing concerns that drivers who purchase these vehicles may be lulled into a false sense of security. Unfortunately, researchers can support these concerns with data. Crash investigators report that driver disengagement is a major factor in fatal accidents involving vehicles with partial automation.
At the end of the day, what does this mean for those who are injured or lose a loved one in these accidents? Every driver who gets behind the wheel, whether of an automated vehicle or a standard, manual vehicle, is responsible for the safe operation of that vehicle. As a result, victims can likely hold a driver whose vehicle is responsible for a serious or fatal accident responsible for the cost of the accident. This can include medical expenses, the cost to replace or repair your vehicle, missed wages and potential pain and suffering. Unfortunately, there can be time limits on these claims. As such, it is wise to gather paperwork to support the claim and move forward with a civil action promptly. This better ensures you can hold the other driver accountable for their wrongdoing with a civil suit.