On 15 June, the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published the first of what will be monthly reports into crashes involving vehicles with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and more advanced automated driving systems (ADS).
In brief, for SAE Level 2 ADAS equipped vehicles, 367 crashes were reported from July 2021 to 15 May 2022, resulting in six fatalities and five cases of serious injury. Tesla reported the most, followed by Honda and Subaru.
Cue the headlines, “Tesla Autopilot and Other Driver-Assist Systems Linked to Hundreds of Crashes” in the New York Times and “Teslas running Autopilot involved in 273 crashes reported since last year” in the Washington Post.
However, the United States Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG) shed light on this, explaining that “Teslas are connected to the internet and automatically report if the car was in Autopilot when it crashed. Honda asks its drivers if they were using ADAS, so it relies on hard-to-verify personal accounts. Everyone else leaves it up to the police report.”
For ADS, nearly all the data comes from California. 130 crashes were reported from July 2021 to 15 May 2022. One resulted in serious injury. Waymo reported the most incidents, followed by Transdev Alternative Solutions and then Cruise.
Dr. Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s Administrator, said: “The data released today are part of our commitment to transparency, accountability and public safety.
“New vehicle technologies have the potential to help prevent crashes, reduce crash severity and save lives, and the Department is interested in fostering technologies that are proven to do so; collecting this data is an important step in that effort.
“As we gather more data, NHTSA will be able to better identify any emerging risks or trends and learn more about how these technologies are performing in the real world.”
Autonomous vehicle safety consultant Philip Koopman welcomed the new data, commenting: “This is an excellent first step for transparency. All of us safety advocates can wish for more data and for less redaction, but this is a crucial step forward.
“If I had one wish, it would be to divide the narrative data field into two sections: public narrative and confidential narrative, and put huge pressure on the reporting companies to minimize things put into the confidential narrative.”
On this side of the pond, The Law Commission has recommended that automated vehicles must be able to record and store data necessary for incident investigation.