Automakers have reported nearly 400 crashes of vehicles equipped with partially automated driver assistance systems, including 273 involving Teslas, according to statistics released Wednesday by U.S. safety regulators.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has warned against using the numbers to compare automakers, saying it does not weigh them by how many vehicles from each maker use the systems, or how many miles traveled by these vehicles.
Automakers reported crashes from July last year to May 15 under an order from the agency, which is reviewing such crashes broadly for the first time.
“As we collect more data, NHTSA will be able to better identify emerging risks or trends and learn more about how these technologies are performing in the real world,” said Steven Cliff, l agency administrator.
Tesla’s crashes occurred while the vehicles were using Autopilot, “fully autonomous driving”, traffic-aware cruise control or other driver assistance systems that have some control over speed and direction. direction. The company has approximately 830,000 vehicles with the systems on the road.
The next closest of a dozen automakers to report crashes was Honda, with 90. Honda says it has about six million vehicles on US roads with such systems. Subaru was next with 10, and all other automakers reported five or less.
In a June 2021 order, NHTSA asked more than 100 automakers and automated vehicle technology companies to report serious crashes within a day of discovery and to disclose less serious crashes by the 15th day of the following month. The agency is assessing how the systems are working and whether new regulations may be needed.
NHTSA also said five people were killed in the crashes involving driver assistance systems and six were seriously injured.
Tesla’s accident count may also be high because it uses telematics to monitor its vehicles and get real-time accident reports. Other automakers don’t have such a capability, so their reports may be slower or crashes may not be reported at all, NHTSA said. A message was left asking Tesla for comment.
Tesla crashes accounted for nearly 70% of the 392 reported by the dozen automakers. Although the Austin, Texas automaker calls its systems Autopilot and “Full Self-Driving,” it says the vehicles cannot drive themselves and drivers must be ready to intervene at all times.
Other data limitations
Manufacturers were not required to report the number of vehicles equipped with these systems on the road, nor report the distance traveled by these vehicles or when the systems are used, NHTSA said. At present, those numbers are not quantifiable, an agency official said.
However, NHTSA may request this information later. Meanwhile, the new data allowed him to discover accidents much faster than before. Currently, it uses crash data to research trends and discuss them with companies, the agency said.
NHTSA has already used the data to request a recall, initiate investigations and provide information for existing investigations, officials said. Additionally, they said it’s unclear how many drivers actually use the technology.
“This will help our investigators quickly identify potential patterns of defects that may emerge,” Cliff said. “This data will also help us identify crashes we want to investigate and provide more insight into how people in other vehicles interact with vehicles.”
Honda said it packaged the systems to sell more, which could influence its numbers. “The population of vehicles that could theoretically be involved in a reportable event is far greater than the population of vehicles built by automakers with a less aggressive deployment strategy,” the company said.
Additionally, reports to NHTSA are based on unverified customer statements of whether automated systems were working at the time of a crash. These crashes may not be eligible for reporting to NHTSA after more data is collected, Honda said.
The Automotive Innovation Alliance, which represents most automakers, said the data collected by NHTSA alone is not enough to assess the safety of automated vehicle systems.
Fully autonomous vehicles: 130 accidents, none serious
NHTSA’s order also covered companies that use fully autonomous vehicles, and 25 reported a total of 130 crashes. Google spin-off Waymo led with 62, followed by Transdev Alternative Services with 34 and General Motors-controlled Cruise LLC with 23.
Waymo, the self-driving vehicle unit of Alphabet Inc., said it has more than 700 self-driving vehicles in its fleet. The company runs a fully self-driving ride service in Arizona and is testing one in California. The company said all of the crashes occurred at low speeds, with airbags inflating in just two of them.
In 108 of the crashes involving fully autonomous vehicles, no injuries were reported and there was only one serious injury. In most accidents, vehicles were struck from behind.
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