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IIHS Gives Most Advanced Driver Assistance Systems a Failing Grade

It's not just Tesla's Autopilot; it's almost all of them ...

2023 Tesla Model 3 interior
  • Out of 14 partial automation systems evaluated by the IIHS, only one earned an acceptable rating.
  • Tesla received the worst rating in six out of eight categories.
  • The safety organization says it hopes automakers will "incorporate more robust safeguards" into their automation systems.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has introduced a new ratings program for partially automated driving systems, and the resulting ratings are shockingly bad for most automakers. After evaluating 14 systems, only one vehicle received an acceptable rating (the second highest), and two were rated marginal, a rung below that. The vast majority, or nearly 80%, scored a poor rating at the bottom of the scale. Ouch.

IIHS President David Harkey didn’t mince words in his summary.

“Some drivers may feel that partial automation makes long drives easier, but there is little evidence it makes driving safer,” Harkey said in a press release. “As many high-profile crashes have illustrated, it can introduce new risks when systems lack the appropriate safeguards.”

Lexus' Teammate system

Vehicles from BMW, Ford, General Motors, Genesis, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Tesla and Volvo were put to the test. The GMC Sierra and Nissan Ariya earned marginal ratings from IIHS, while the Lexus LS’ Teammate system was the only one to achieve an A for acceptable, leaving room for improvement to the highest rating of G for good.

Criticisms include inadequate monitoring to determine whether the driver is looking at the road or prepared to take control, weak attention reminders, and the ability to use partial autonomy even when unbelted or when other safety features are switched off.

Of all the vehicles tested, Tesla’s 2021-2023 Model 3 with Tesla Autopilot Version 2023.7.10 failed in the highest number of categories, earning a poor rating in six out of eight columns. The Genesis G90 didn’t fare much better, with its 2021-2023 sedans scoring poorly in five of eight categories.

Photo of the interior of the 2024 Mercedes-AMG S 63 E Performance

In Tesla’s case, the Autopilot name leads some drivers to believe they can literally turn over the car’s operations and focus their attention elsewhere. Others pull stunts like sitting in the back seat while the vehicle rolls down the highway, unmonitored.

“Vehicles with partial automation are not self-driving — though automakers sometimes use names that imply their systems are,” says the IIHS.

Even after the poor showing across the board, Harkey is optimistic because the tests showed that in each category, at least one system earned top marks. He believes that’s an indication that some concerns can be easily fixed, and maybe even with an over-the-air software update.

Edmunds says

We're glad IIHS is saying this loud and clear. Hopefully, automakers will pay attention and shore up their systems in the near future.