Last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued an order for all OEMs and operators to report crashes involving vehicles equipped with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). This is the technology that allows vehicles to have decision-making capabilities regarding speed and steering control, among other components. Drivers still need to remain completely involved in the process.
Further, the order requires the same accident reporting for vehicles equipped with Automated Driving Systems (ADS), engineered to execute the total driving experience. ADS approximates what many people now refer to as “autopilot”. While not yet available to the public, these vehicles are being tested in limited numbers by ride sharing services, shuttles and delivery companies.
NHTSA has now issued its initial round of data and summary reports based on the order. The organization is quick to point out that while the data are informative and thought-provoking, they are not yet able to derive any concrete conclusions or recommendations. In addition to the paucity of data, there are also vast differences in how the data are reported, as well as timeliness. Many vehicle makers are able to send more data quicker because they utilize telematics. Other OEMs and operators are reliant upon consumer grievances to start the data collection process.
In addition, these data have not been standardized by quantity of vehicles or cumulative mileage per auto maker. Manufacturers are not currently obligated to provide these figures to NHTSA. So, at present, there is no reliable way to compare the safety of OEMs against each other. With that said, this first go-round is thought of as a good first step in understanding what kinds of crashes might be anticipated, as well as potential frequency.
“The data released today are part of our commitment to transparency, accountability and public safety,” said Dr. Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s Administrator. “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.”
According to the initial NHTSA report, there were 392 crashes among vehicles equipped with ADAS during the reporting period of July 20, 2021 and May 15, 2022. Injuries occurred in 98 of these accidents, with 11 resulting in serious injury or death. In 116 cases, collisions occurred with another vehicle, while in four instances, an ADAS equipped vehicle collided with either a bicyclist or pedestrian.
Among OEMs providing ADAS crash data, Tesla reported the most instances with 273, Honda had 90 and Subaru reported 10. No other vehicle manufacturer reached double-digits. Far and away, the state where most of these collisions occurred was California. This is no real surprise since most ADAS technology is developed and tested here, primarily in the San Francisco Bay area, where Silicon Valley is located.
-Dave Bean, Associate Editor, FMW