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Thatcham Research and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) issued an urgent call to car makers and legislators for greater clarity around the capability of vehicles sold with technology that does more and more driving on behalf of motorists. This in the wake of growing reports of people crashing while over-relying on technology that has not yet been designed to drive the car independently.

Matthew Avery, Head of Research at Thatcham Research comments:  “We are starting to see real-life examples of the hazardous situations that occur when motorists expect the car to drive and function on its own. Specifically, where the technology is taking ownership of more of the driving task, but the motorist may not be sufficiently aware that they are still required to take back control in problematic circumstances. “Fully automated vehicles that can own the driving task from A to B, with no need for driver involvement whatsoever, won’t be available for many years to come. Until then drivers remain criminally liable for the safe use of their cars and as such, the capability of current road vehicle technologies must not be oversold.”

Avery continues, “It begins with how systems are named and described across carmaker marketing materials and the driver’s handbook. Names like Autopilot or ProPilot are deeply unhelpful, as they infer the car can do a lot more than it can. Absolute clarity is needed, to help drivers understand the “when and how” these technologies are designed to work and that they should always remain engaged in the driving task.”