Level 2 driver assistance systems need review

  • January 16, 2021

ETSC has reiterated calls for regulators to look again at the safety of vehicles with Level 2 assistance systems as carmakers increase pressure to allow such systems to be operated “hands off”.

In a letter to the Financial Times, published in January, ETSC wrote that it is not clear what effect these new technologies are having on road death and injury numbers because crash investigations almost never take into account if such systems were functional at the time of a collision.

However, forensic investigations of a handful of such crashes by the US National Transportation Safety Board and the Dutch Safety Board have raised fundamental concerns about driver overreliance, distraction, and misunderstanding of the systems’ capabilities and limitations.

A number of other organisations, including Euro NCAP, IIHS, and PACTS, have raised additional concerns over overreliance, distraction and confusion created by the marketing terms used.

ETSC is concerned that automotive manufacturers are pressuring EU and UNECE regulators to allow such systems to be operated hands-off, even though drivers would still need to pay constant attention and be ready to take over at any moment. Such a move would only increase the potential for driver confusion between assisted and automated driving, and thereby their understanding of what is expected of them when sitting in the driver seat.

ETSC says the EU should prohibit hands-off assistance systems, and only allow drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel in vehicles with truly automated driving systems, where constant supervision by the driver is no longer necessary.

At the EU level, ETSC is calling for an agency with the resources to investigate crashes and gather crash data on existing systems before even more unproven technologies are approved.

Briefing: EU Strategy for Automated Mobility