Lexus LS driver-assistance system gets top safety rating. Image Credit: Lexus/X

One of the auto industry's most closely watched evaluators of safety has put carmakers' driver-assistance systems to the test, and the results aren't pretty.

A system Toyota Motor Corp. offers on the Lexus LS sedan is the only one of 14 that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tested and deemed "acceptable," the independent nonprofit said on Tuesday. Tesla Inc., Mercedes-Benz Group AG and Volvo Car AB systems were among the 11 that IIHS rates "poor."

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The IIHS evaluated how systems perform tasks including monitoring drivers and reminding them that they need to pay attention. The group also graded systems on the procedures they follow in emergencies, including when alerts intended to reengage drivers are ignored. Most systems lack adequate measures to prevent misuse and keep drivers focused, IIHS President David Harkey said.

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

Tesla's Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Beta "- both of which are driver-support features that require constant supervision "- were among the systems that rated poorly.

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Tesla's Autopilot and Full Self Driving technology and nine other assisted-driving systems marketed by major automakers received ‘poor’ ratings from the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in a new study

IIHS said it evaluated software that preceded the company's December recall of Autopilot, which followed a years-long investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Consumer Reports said last month that Tesla's software update aimed at preventing misuse was insufficient and called for the federal agency to revisit the recall.

Other systems that rated "poor" include BMW AG's Active Driving Assistant Pro, Ford Motor Co.'s BlueCruise and Volvo's Pilot Assist.

IIHS praised the Lexus Teammate system's attention reminders and various safety features. The group assigned a "marginal" rating to General Motors Co.'s Super Cruise and Nissan Motor Co.'s ProPilot Assist with Navi-link.