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Can a new rating program provide more protection for drivers?

Automobile automation has made significant strides over the past decade. While many manufacturers blazed the trail, Elon Musk stands out for his continued “tinkering” with his famed Tesla motor vehicles. The results for all cars with partial automation have been, at best, mixed.

In response to the trials and errors of manufacturers, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is creating a new rating program to be introduced this year that codifies how these safeguards are evaluated. The goal is to strike a balance between effective innovations and drivers staying focused on the road without overreliance on the technology.

The new system

Ratings from poor to good with acceptable and marginal included in the category list. Achieving a good rating means that driver’s eyes are on the road ahead of them with hands on the wheel or continued preparedness to take control. Vehicles will also be required to provide escalating alerts and other emergency procedures when drivers fall short.

Consumer Reports will also start a point system as well while still using IIHS ratings as a factor.

Self-driving cars are still out of reach to consumers, contrary to the messaging by carmakers, if not outright overselling. Partial automation is a prominent feature on many vehicles, with brand names such as Autopilot, Pilot Assist, and Super Cruise. While cameras and radar help, active participation by the driver is remains of paramount importance.

It is important to note that the current line of technological features, regardless of the manufacturer, do not meet the future criteria under consideration by the IIHS. Defensive driving continues to be the priority, despite the creative branding by manufacturers that continues to result in tragic accidents caused by drivers believing “the hype.”