Tech, rules… Update on Driving Assistants (ADAS).

Automated driving assistance systems, designated by the acronym ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems), continue to make their mark on new cars. With the promise of safer driving and increased comfort for drivers. Inseparable from the smart and connected car, these systems rely on sensors (ultrasound radars, cameras, lidars) that provide driving data. Which is then processed by a processor with algorithms or even artificial intelligence.

Safety and convenience

These driving aids, such as the currently mandatory trajectory control or automatic emergency braking, are said to be “active” when they are engaged in direct traffic. It is “passive” when it requires driver intervention to deal with a hazard, such as drowsiness or lane departure signals. However, ADAS may seem more optional and focus more on driver convenience, such as automatic parking assist or level 2 semi-autonomous driving, which is still often optional.

Often described as guardian angels or safety devices that compensate for human error, ADAS are also paving the way for autonomous driving. If their role remains for now to inform drivers and assist them in driving, they will be equipped with a number of automated systems, i.e. a robot that can provide level 3 autonomous driving, etc. they can replace them by forming.

Meanwhile, the number of ADAS has increased over the past two decades, particularly under the influence of the EuroNCAP association, which takes this type of equipment into account when determining its vehicle safety ratings. While some ADAS are not yet mandatory to get five stars, they remain essential. That’s why manufacturers integrate them massively into their range to avoid the drop.

Always more mandatory ADAS

In addition, regulations are increasingly making ADAS mandatory. The list continues to grow for new passenger cars, light commercial vehicles and heavy vehicles across the European Union: around fifteen devices were added last July, under community legislation adopted in April 2019 (see box below). Europe’s target of zero road deaths and serious injuries by 2050. The European Commission estimates that ADAS could save more than 25,000 lives and at least 140,000 serious injuries by 2038, including cyclists and pedestrians.

But these driving aids are not always well understood by drivers, who sometimes find them too intrusive, even annoying to the point of driving. However, if they are not well adopted, ADAS can actually be destabilizing and cause additional risks to drivers.

Ignorance and underuse

A height. In 2021, the insurer Allianz, together with the CSA, published an instructive study on the use of ADAS by French car drivers. This barometer noted the lack of knowledge about these aids, but also their underutilization. For example, 69% of people surveyed said they fear being distracted or less alert while driving using ADAS, and 60% are reluctant to entrust certain tasks to them. 75% were afraid of technical failure and 46% were afraid of the risk of hacking. The study also highlighted a lack of information and support among drivers, with only one in two receiving an explanation from a salesperson or documentation when buying their car.

For the road prevention association, the development of ADAS is a step in the right direction and complements traditional passive safety equipment (air bags, seat belts, etc.) that limit the consequences of accidents. But the organization reminds on its website that there is no substitute for driver vigilance and relying on this equipment alone to reduce accidents is an illusion. The association also warns that these misused technologies can create new risks. Because with always more information to work quickly, drivers can experience a sense of overload that directly threatens their vigilance towards the environment. ADAS can likewise enhance a sense of safety, which can influence drivers’ attention and cause them to take additional risks. Morally, if drivers don’t master these tools properly, they can have the opposite effect of what is being sought.

Alcohol and fatigue in line of sight

Among the mandatory new safety equipment, Road Safety has long insisted on the introduction of two systems: the pre-installation of an intelligent speed limiter and an immobilizer system, which limits the engine when the permitted speed is exceeded. requires drivers to test their alcohol level using a breathalyzer before they can start their car.

Another important issue related to road safety, among others in the occupational context, is related to fatigue in about 10% of fatal accidents (one in three on the highway). It is the third leading cause of death on the roads after speeding and alcohol. Also, fatigue or attention loss detectors have become mandatory. But their effectiveness remains to be proven, as most watch the car’s suspicious actions on the road, not the driver.

Finally, starting this year, all new cars must be equipped with an event data recording device (EDR), or black box, as in airplanes. This device records vehicle information (speed, braking or ADAS activation) before and after an accident, which helps to understand the origin and causes of the incident a posteriori.

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