Toyota Warns Against Automated Vehicle Technologies

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Advanced technologies can’t replace a human behind the wheel.

Toyota is sounding the alarm and drawing attention to the results of a national public opinion survey about automated vehicles, conducted by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) in partnership with the Toyota Canada Foundation.

The survey revealed that public misperceptions and over-confidence in advanced technologies may have unintended consequences.

Although advanced safety features like lane-keeping and forward collision warning systems are important building blocks on the road to automated vehicles, expectations are high that technologies like these will dramatically reduce accidents and produce a range of other benefits. But, TIRF argues, whether these gains are achieved will ultimately depend entirely on drivers.

“The results of this poll demonstrated that the limitations of automated vehicle technology are not well-understood by the general public” said Robyn Robertson, President & CEO of TIRF and lead researcher on the study. “Almost 1 in 6 Canadians believed that they would not have to be attentive when driving a semi-automated vehicle, and that they would not have to be prepared to take control of it unexpectedly.”

The survey found that some drivers would be more willing to take risks when using a semi-automated vehicle. Almost 25% of drivers reported they would drive tired or fatigued, and 17% would engage in a non-driving activity such as texting, reading or working more than they do now. And, 10% and 9% of drivers respectively indicated that they would be more willing to sleep or nap behind the wheel, or drink and drive.

“Some organizations will tell you that automated vehicle technology is intended to replace the driver,” said Stephen Beatty, Vice-President, Corporate at Toyota Canada. “Our view is that advanced active safety technology is meant to enhance a driver’s control of their vehicle, but that it is not a replacement for a knowledgeable and attentive driver. This study tells us that we, as an industry, still have lots of work to do when it comes to educating drivers about the capabilities and limitations of the technology.”

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