Car safety experts Thatcham Research and Euro NCAP have teamed up to launch a new grading system for the growing number of driver assistance fitted to modern cars.
Said to be a world first, the new grading system aims to give motorists further insight into how the technologies work, which include autonomous emergency driving and adaptive cruise control.
According to Thatcham Research, though, many manufacturers ‘overstate the capability’ of their systems, with many drivers not using the tech correctly – something that’s said to have caused collisions and even deaths.
Vehicles will be tested on three criteria: vehicle assistance (how effective they are), driver engagement (does the car check the driver is still ‘in control’ of the car) and safety back-up (does the car protect the driver in an emergency). The cars are then awarded from ‘entry’ up to ‘very good’.
Thatcham has already carried out its first batch of testing, which included everything from superminis to large SUVs. Out on top were the Mercedes GLE and BMW 3 Series, which were both awarded a ‘very good’ rating, while at the bottom were the Renault Clio and Peugeot 2008 – each being awarded an ‘entry’ rating.
Thatcham also criticised the Tesla Model 3 for “over-selling what its ‘Autopilot’ system is capable of, while actively discouraging drivers from engaging when behind the wheel”.
Commenting on the new grading system, Matthew Avery, Thatcham Research's director of research, said: “The systems that are currently allowed on our roads are there to assist the driver – but do not replace them.
“Unfortunately, there are motorists that believe they can purchase a self-driving car today. This is a dangerous misconception that sees too much control handed to vehicles that are not ready to cope with all situations.
“Clarity is therefore required to make sure drivers understand the capability and performance of current assisted systems. It's crucial today’s technology is adopted safely before we take the next step on the road to automation. There are safety and insurance implications that must be considered seriously.”