In its ruling of 20 August 2018, the Higher Court of the Canton of Zurich ruled that a driver may not rely on the assistance systems of his vehicle. A wrong reaction of the assistance system is therefore fully blamed on the driver.

In the present case, driver A was driving on the A1 motorway behind another passenger car with the distance controller activated. When the driver in front of him had to brake to a standstill due to traffic conditions, A collided with the rear of the vehicle in front of him. According to the facts established, the distance assistant first began to brake, but then accelerated strongly due to a misinterpretation of the system. Driver A was unable to come to a standstill in time despite the automatic emergency braking.

With an order of punishment, A was found guilty of a simple violation of the traffic rules due to his failure to control the vehicle and sentenced to a fine of CHF 500. The District Court and the Higher Court confirmed the conviction.

The higher court protected the view of the lower court that “all errors in assistance systems that can be avoided by driving on one’s own are a criminal offence against the driver, who cannot delegate responsibility to the driver assistance systems”.

The ruling makes it clear that without exception the driver is responsible for his vehicle and also for any faulty manipulation of his assistance systems. When such assistance systems are used, it is therefore always important to focus at least as much on road traffic and the vehicle as on driving.