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Automated cars on motorways: Active and passive safety aspects

Automated driving is regarded as the future of mobility. It is expected to make traffic flow more efficiently and reduce the number of road accident victims as well as emissions and traffic jams. The German Insurers Accident Research has car­ried out a comprehensive study on motorway accidents involving cars. The aim of the study was to determine the overall safety effect of automated driving function.

The accident occurrence will not change compared to today’s situation when cars with an automated driving function drive in manual mode. If, in comparison, cars are driven in an automated mode, active safety benefits and passive safety consequences can be expected. The most substantial benefit can be expected from today’s modern assistance and comfort systems (ADAS+) if these consist of an emergency breaking assist, a lane-change assist, a blind spot detection system and an adaptive cruise control.  In comparison to modern cars equipped with ADAS+, an additional small benefit could be expected for a Level 3 system in terms of avoidable accidents on motor­ways.  From the view of the German Insurers, highly auto­mated vehicles (Level 4) could bring great benefits in terms of road safety if they functioned flawlessly under all conditions within their intended design domain.

The current protection level of passive safety systems will have to stay at least the same and will have to  be adopted for certain configurations.