The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is introducing a new ratings program to encourage car manufacturers to incorporate more robust safeguards into their partial driving automation systems.

The partial automation safeguard ratings evaluate driver monitoring, attention reminders, emergency procedures and other aspects of system design. A system may be assigned a rating of good, acceptable, marginal or poor for its safeguards.

However out of the first 14 systems tested by the IIHS, only one earned an acceptable rating. Two were rated marginal, and 11 were rated poor.

“These results are worrying, considering how quickly vehicles with these partial automation systems are hitting our roadways,” said IIHS President David Harkey.

“But there’s a silver lining if you look at the performance of the group as a whole. No single system did well across the board, but in each category at least one system performed well. That means the fixes are readily available and, in some cases, may be accomplished with nothing more than a simple software update.”

The new IIHS ratings aim to encourage safeguards that can help reduce intentional misuse and prolonged attention lapses as well as to discourage certain design characteristics that increase risk in other ways — such as systems that can be operated when automatic emergency braking (AEB) is turned off or seat belts are unbuckled.

Scores are awarded based on a battery of tests conducted over multiple trials, and some performance areas are weighted more heavily than others.

When possible, tests are conducted on a closed test track. For certain tests that must be conducted on public roads, a second IIHS employee sits in the front passenger seat to monitor the driving environment and the vehicle systems.

IIHS said in some cases, manufacturers are already making changes to their systems through software updates and said it expects improvements to be rapid.

The safety test results can be seen on the IIHS website.