“Many advanced technologies can reduce the number of lives lost on US roads, but full or partial automation is not one of them,” – the words of David Harkey, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Speaking in a virtual Capitol Hill briefing this month, Mr Harkey said the organisation firmly believed in technology for vehicle safety but did not believe in the promise of technology to completely replace drivers and for the vehicle to assume all responsibility for vehicle operations.

His insight on the Institute’s perspective on advance vehicle technologies was given as part of an expert panel on autonomous vehicles organized for legislators by the nonprofit Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

IIHS research has shown that forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking (AEB) slash rear-end vehicle-to-vehicle crashes by 27 and 50 percent, respectively, Mr Harkey said. Similarly, AEB systems that can recognize and brake to avoid people reduce pedestrian crashes by 27 percent.

However, crash data has not shown similar benefits for the Level 2 partial automation systems that are currently on the market. IIHS research has shown that some designs might actually be adding to the danger on the road by lulling drivers into complacency behind the wheel.

“In observational studies, we have found that drivers using these systems tend to drive faster, look away from the road more frequently and for longer periods of time, and engage in more distracting behaviors,” Mr Harkey added.