Examining the Safety Benefits of Partial Automation Technologies in an Uncertain Future

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Emerging vehicle technologies seek to enhance comfort and safety by automating parts of the driving task. It is important to have realistic expectations regarding the potential safety benefits of these technologies, to avoid undermining public confidence as well as to ensure that other traffic safety issues do not go unaddressed.  The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is working with researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to estimate how many crashes, injuries, and deaths existing driver assistance systems and partial vehicle automation technologies are likely to prevent in the future.

Project Goal and Plan

The goal of this project is to estimate the numbers of crashes, injuries, and deaths likely to be prevented by emerging vehicle technologies annually over a 30-year time horizon given realistic assumptions regarding their rate of market penetration, acceptance and use by drivers, as well as their evolving capabilities and performance.

This research will review existing literature regarding historical rates of market penetration of new vehicle technologies, consumer acceptance and use of existing driver assistance and vehicle automation technologies, and effectiveness of existing technologies in terms of their ability to prevent various types of crashes. These considerations will then serve as inputs into a model that will be used to predict the number of motor vehicle crashes, injuries, and deaths that the technologies are likely to prevent annually and cumulatively through 2050.


Brian C. Tefft

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety