NHTSA Report Connects Hundreds of Crashes with Driver-Assistance Tech

·2 min read
Photo credit: Tesla
Photo credit: Tesla
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a report listing hundreds of vehicle crashes in cars equipped with SAE Level 2 driver-assistance tech, the agency announced today.

  • NHTSA started requiring automakers to submit the information in June of last year, and its initial findings are based on about 10 months of data.

  • Its first report says there have been 392 vehicle crashes in the U.S. involving a Level 2 driver-assist system, six of which had fatalities. However, it's not possible to draw many conclusions from this data, even whether the driver-assist systems are making things worse or better.

Over the past 10 months, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has collected data reported by automakers on crashes involving vehicles equipped with driver-assist features. The U.S. agency today published the initial results of that data collection, which reveals hundreds of crashes with vehicles using SAE Level 2 driver-assistance technology.

Based on a new requirement called a "Standing General Order on Crash Reporting for Level 2 Advanced Driver Assistance Systems," NHTSA has required automakers to report an accident if "Level 2 ADAS was in use at any time within 30 seconds of the crash and the crash involved a vulnerable road user or resulted in a fatality, a vehicle tow-away, an airbag deployment, or any individual being transported to a hospital for medical treatment." Of course, these reports are likely imperfect because there may be issues such as access to the crash data or incomplete data from the incident report, among other issues.

Of crashes reported by manufacturers, Tesla had the most with 272 reports. Honda (90 incidents) and Subaru (10 incidents) reported the second and third most crashes involving a Level 2 system. NHTSA also revealed that among the 98 crashes where an injury was reported, five were serious and six involved fatalities.

Photo credit: NHTSA
Photo credit: NHTSA

NHTSA said that prior to issuing its order in June 2021, it had relied on vehicle owner questionnaires, media reports, and direct outreach from automakers to get this kind of data and called that process "generally inconsistent." Now that the agency has better standards in place to collect the data, it can better respond and raise awareness regarding accidents that involve driver-assistance technology.

Still, as NHTSA administrator Steven Cliff told the New York Times before today's announcement, it's too early to draw conclusions from these initial findings. Cliff said that NHTSA will continue collecting data on driver-assistance-related crashes to help guide requirements around how the technology is designed and functions, according to the article in the New York Times.

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