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Unhinged: How Many More Automated Systems Must Be Added Before NHTSA Figures Out The Problem Is The Idiot Behind The Wheel?

Unhinged: How Many More Automated Systems Must Be Added Before NHTSA Figures Out The Problem Is The Idiot Behind The Wheel?

I’m gonna start with a press release from NHTSA:

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration plans to add two cutting-edge automatic emergency braking systems to the recommended advanced safety features included under its New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) – the latest step in a half-century of safety innovations that have saved more than 600,000 lives, according to new research NHTSA released today.

The agency plans to continue to encourage development and commercialization of additional promising safety-related technologies of vehicle automation through its recommendation of two automatic emergency braking systems – crash imminent braking (CIB) and dynamic brake support (DBS). The addition is the latest in a long history of safety innovations covered in NHTSA’s new report, which uses data from the agency’s Fatal Accident Reporting System to create a statistical model that estimated safety technologies have saved 613,501 lives since 1960.

“Today marks an enormous leap in the evolution of auto safety by encouraging adoption of new technologies to keep drivers and their passengers safe on our roads,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “I want this Department, the entire automotive industry, and other innovators to keep raising the bar on safety like we are doing now.”

According to NHTSA data, one-third of all police-reported crashes in 2013 involved a rear-end collision with another vehicle at the start of the crash. The agency also found that a large number of drivers involved in rear-end crashes either did not apply the brakes at all or did not apply the brakes fully prior to the crash. Crash imminent braking and dynamic brake support systems can intervene by automatically applying the vehicle’s brakes or supplementing the driver’s braking effort to mitigate the severity of the crash or to avoid it altogether.

These AEB systems, along with promising innovations such as vehicle-to-vehicle communications (V2V) and automated vehicle technologies hold great promise to save even more lives and prevent even more crashes, building upon the successes of crashworthiness and crash avoidance technologies currently available in vehicles today. As these technologies mature, NHSTA will continue to accelerate its push on innovative and effective solutions to reduce the staggering toll of motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. through our research, regulatory, and consumer information programs.

Today’s action also marks the first step in a broader revision of NCAP and seeks to ensure the program continues to encourage both consumers and automakers to develop and adopt advanced vehicle safety technologies.

“Adding AEB to our list of recommended features will encourage consumers to consider AEB as a factor in their new car purchase and encourage automakers to make this important innovation more widely available,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “NCAP is a critical tool for enhancing safety, so we are also looking at additional innovations to the program to capitalize on this exciting period of progress in safety technology.”

In 2013, NHTSA requested public comment on how the agency should update NCAP. Many commenters were very positive about the potential benefit of AEB technology, which today’s action addresses. Commenters also had input on other ways NHTSA could further improve NCAP and the agency plans to seek comment on additional program changes in the future.

AEB diagram

Courtesy: cvel.clemson.edu

Not every recommendation NHTSA has made has been bad. I firmly believe that seat belts are one of the greatest additions to the automobile, but progressively, the additions to every car have become less of an honest update and more of a reaction to piss-poor drivers. Electronic Stability Control, because when the roadway conditions become less-than-perfect, people forget how to operate their vehicle…ask anyone in Seattle about the first rain after summer. Now the cars have to talk to each other, sense each other’s movements, and stop for us too?


Dear NHTSA: When are you going to understand that the safety issues that you wish to prevent are caused by licensed drivers who have sub-standard driving skills and the attention span of a weasel that has been given mescaline? You are trying to use technology to protect people who refuse to use public transportation, yet also refuse to drive in a safe and proper manner. Instead of requiring my car to have as many computers on-board as an Apollo spacecraft, how about we just up the requirements for obtaining a driver’s license? Wouldn’t that be the smarter move?

I could go on, but I’d be ranting. What do you think?

volvo fail

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19 thoughts on “Unhinged: How Many More Automated Systems Must Be Added Before NHTSA Figures Out The Problem Is The Idiot Behind The Wheel?

  1. Ted

    Nicely worded Bryan. We here in Vancouver BC Canada have an unbelievable amount of driving schools and not one of them seem to turn out anyone capable of parking properly or driving in a straight line. These are the people who then buy these moronic vehicles with stability control/land swerving avoidance/radar/back up cameras/one hundred and eleventeen air bags which they think makes them invincible, and even funnier, a qualified driver. I’m sick of idiots on the road, and even more p.o.’ed at the manufacturers for including all these redundant options instead of just providing a legitimate driving school as the only true must have with any purchase.

  2. Schtauffer

    The world will be a safer place when cars are self-driving. I feel a driver’s license should be costly and difficult to obtain, and easy to lose.

    1. John T

      god I hope you’re being sarcastic in your first statement….you really want google cars that can have glitches like any computerised device bearing down on you??

  3. Truckin Tom

    Actually, I couldn’t agree more Bryan.

    Take out the ABS systems, all the air bags, anything remotely close to GPS system on the dash board; – and let natural selection take it’s course. Then maybe, folks would pay more attention do what the hell they’re doing when the stakes are raised.

    In so far as the last comment about self-driving cars………there shouldn’t be one more ounce of effort wasted to developing these things. You either learn how to drive, take public transportation, or ride a bicycle. That’s your choices.

    1. pontiac drag racer

      “In so far as the last comment about self-driving cars………there shouldn’t be one more ounce of effort wasted to developing these things. You either learn how to drive, take public transportation, or ride a bicycle. That’s your choices.”

      Ding, ding, ding! I fully agree! I see a big potential for lawsuits should something go wrong in a self driving car. I also see a BIG payday from the lawsuit when you can sue the manufacturer, the software writers, airbag manufacturer, the dealer that sold the car, the salesperson that sold the car and who ever else might be involved in the making and selling of the car.

      Maybe I’m just old fashioned, I like to drive my own vehicle. I also take the responsibility very seriously. Judging by all those texting around me on the road, I’m certain that those drivers haven’t a clue about responsible driving.

  4. Jim

    I believe every time I have renewed my license in the last oh say 35 years, there is alway a senior who is being coached through the eye exam so that everyone can get a license, even if they can’t see well enough, to say nothing of those who are in a constant short attention span theater. A comprehensive written test every six years for everyone and a driving test at least ever other renewal. Oh one more thing, this is AMERICA, the road signs are in ENGLISH. Guess what language you need to be able to read and write to get a license?

    1. pontiac drag racer

      Ohhh, that explains the drivers in San Antonio. Not only do they not read the road signs, but the don’t know the laws of the road either. Most think that drivers exiting an expressway have to yield to the slower cars on the service road. Logic would dictate otherwise (unless you are self centered fool) and Texas state law requires service road drivers yield to exiting traffic even if there isn’t a sign instructing to do so. A frequent renewal test would surely help a driver to remember what the lines in the road mean and many other clues to help them drive safely.

      1. cyclone03

        another San Antonio driver here.
        The concept of MERGE does not exist here either.
        Lets see , drive to the end of the merge lane on the freeway then stop. Now what? OH yea. Get tired of waiting for all the traffic to exit the right lane so you can now enter the freeway at some speed between crawl and walk while me ,behind you, has safely found space in the right lane just as you decide the world must now bow to your lack of driving confidence at 40mph less than surrounding traffic.

  5. mooseface

    I’ve always felt that the initial license probationary period should extend to the first three years, and that all drivers should be mandated to drive stick for the first five. Nothing teaches you how to read an intersection, take a corner, maintain a consistent speed and plan reaction times with the drivers around you better than three pedals.

  6. "Hemi" Tom

    There are too many people driving your car. The person that made the computor for ABS, Traction control, air bag, collision advoidence, tire monitor, Blue tooth, etd., etc. The skill level to drivers today is rotten. The car does it for you. NHTSA is insurance industry operated and funded. This is done to keep rates high and to keep people buying new cars. “If you don’t buy a new car that is safe you are not modern or your family deserves to be protected”. Soon a car will allow a person to hit a bridge abuttment @ 100 mph and walk away. Operator skill is the answer, IMO>

  7. C Royer

    as a CDL driver here in NorCal I am amazed that most of the drivers I see around me make it through the day, harder tests, more training, required understanding of the most basic laws would make the most difference in safety today, in the years before airbags, etc. anyone who gave any thought to their safety drove more like their lives depended on it. Today it seems like they drive like video games and the car will save them, insanity

  8. Spanners Chromemoly

    Agree completely. I believe these ‘smart’ cars are just breeding dumb drivers,

    Recently I repaired a RangeRover Supercharged Sport that was involved in a light collision with a garage wall, which in turn, damaged the front RADAR unit linked to the ‘adaptive cruise’ and ‘collision avoidance’. A small box about 2″ x 4″ x 3″. Replacement cost for the unit was $11886 NZD ($8860 USD)

    Many of these new cars involved in a collision are becoming a ‘Total Loss’ due to the added costs of replacing numerous deployed airbags, sensors, and ‘non-repairable’ components. Not to mention the added weight they come with requiring the manufactures to utilize higher-strength, lighter weight, thinner steels and more costly and complex construction methods.

    Worst still,average Joe and Jane are being brainwashed into thinking vehicles without these technologies are ‘dangerous’ and ‘unsafe’. I know of a lady who would denied her 8yo son the enjoyment of a ride in a early Charger because “It has no airbags”

    Being a collision repairer, constant upskilling is required to stay abreast of these technologies which change on almost a daily basis, upskilling that requires substantial cost and time which the insurance companies nor manufactures reimburse us for, and on occasion, having to purchase an overpriced, little used ‘special service tool’ just to complete a job.

    I could go on for days about this SmartCarDumbDriver topic and all these stupid, unnecessary systems as it really ‘grinds my gears’ but I thought I would share a Repair Technicians perspective on the subject.

    By the way, Self-Drive cars would be great for getting home after a big night at the local on the ale. But thats about it.

  9. Dodgzilla

    There are no profits for big business when the average person behind the wheel is intelligent. What the report never asked is WHY these drivers never hit the brakes when the vehicle stopped in front of them. It’s because the answer is obvious and doesn’t require scientific research, new technology or mandatory safety equipment.
    How many people on the roads today are still alive because of the good judgement of other drivers. I think new driver’s don’t need more testing I think they need to drive vehicles equipped like a truck from the fifties. Make them LEARN how to drive, you know paying attention to stopping distance, no radio, manual steering, metal surroundings. Driving a car isn’t like a video game. The consequences are real painful and don’t reset when you lose focus.

  10. MadHungarian

    Actually, cars long ago passed the point of having more computers than an Apollo spacecraft. The average laptop has more computing power than we used to get men to the moon and back. Maybe even the average smartphone.

  11. BeaverMartin

    For comparison sake, in Germany it cost about 2,000 Euro to get a base-line license (goes up depending on ccs, the bigger engine the more expensive) If you get in a single car accident you have to pay the gov’t for the trees, grass ect. you damage. You hit someone’s sheep you pay for the sheep and all the offspring it could have. DUI, strike a motorcyclist ect. you loose the license. Because of the strict laws there are a lot less dumb asses on the road and consequently less accidents. There is also a cultural difference. No cup holders, illegal to cell phone while driving ect. This is why there is no safety glass, door beams, ect. I felt SO much safer going 130 mph on my bike in Germany, than I do going 60 mph here. Food for thought.

  12. Bob

    So……giving people less responsibility will magically make them (and the rest of us) better drivers and somehow safer?

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