Message Monday

Attention please: your car does not drive itself (yet)

Is a self-driving car in your future? While many are quick to imagine a world where cars drive themselves, we are likely many years away from being completely removed from the task of driving and your attention while driving is still very necessary. However, you may not realize that some of the features already in your car that you use every day are taking steps to the self-driving car of the future by utilizing equipment, sensors, and data that help assist you with the task of driving. These features, called automated vehicle technology, can improve your driving behavior and ultimately have a positive impact on the safety of our roads.

Below are steps that explain the different levels of automation necessary before we get to a truly self-driving or fully automated car.


How many of these features do you have in your vehicle?

  • Cruise control is one of the most common automation features on most vehicles in the United States. Newer adaptive cruise control that uses sensors to speed up or slow down for conditions takes that automation to a new level.
  • Blind spot detection uses sensors to alert drivers of objects in the vehicle’s blind spots, becoming extra “eyes” for the driver.
  • Lane keeping assist is a feature on many newer vehicles that helps a driver stay in the appropriate lane.
  • Parking assistance systems on some vehicles make parallel parking fairly hands-off.
  • Forward collision warning systems can detect a when a collision ahead of you is likely and alerts the driver. A forward collision braking system takes it one step further by tying into the vehicle’s braking system and quickly applying the brakes to ensure the vehicle stops in time.
  • Steering assistance on some high-end luxury vehicles offer full steering systems. They use the sensors and cameras to steer the vehicle for a brief period.
  • Sign recognition technology available on some vehicles allows the vehicle to view the sign on the side of the road for the driver. In the case of a speed limit sign, the tool captures the speed limit and displays it for the driver. This tool is informational only at this point and doesn’t control any of the vehicle’s systems.

Check out this video about how vehicles are changing – https://youtu.be/fAw747arR1Y

For 2019, there have been 136 fatalities reported. That’s an increase of eight since last Monday. The 2018 fatality count stands at 318. This is subject to change as law enforcement reports are completed. To see statistics published daily by the Office of Driver Services, go to the daily fatality report at https://www.iowadot.gov/mvd/stats/daily.pdf.

June 24, 2019