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NHTSA Says Tesla's Autopilot and Other Driver-Assist Systems Are Connected to Hundreds of Accidents

August 10, 2022

According to an article, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released additional crash data collected over the past ten months. The crash data includes data involving accidents caused by cars with automated driving technology. Some of those crashes were fatal.

Over the past two years, Tesla's Autopilot and other advanced driver-assistance systems have been investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that about 400 accidents in the United States involve cars with advanced driver-assistance technology. The data collect is part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's investigation into the safety of advanced driving systems as these vehicles become increasingly common on U.S. roadways.

In its report on the 392 crashes, six people were tragically killed, and another five people were severely injured. Teslas using Autopilot were associated with 273 of the crashes. The crash data was gathered according to an NHTSA order in 2021 that required automakers to report accidents involving vehicles with advanced driver-assistance systems. Dozens of auto manufacturers have developed self-driving systems, including systems that enable drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel and help drivers parallel park.

According to Cardozo School of Law Professor Matthew Wansley, the NHTSA's reaction to autonomous motor vehicles and driving technology has been passive, and this is the first time the government has engaged in directly collecting crash data concerning these technologies. Wansley is a professor at the Cardozo School of Law in New York, and he specializes in emerging automobile technologies.

Steven Cliff, the NHTSA administrator, reported that this crash data will be collected in the future and will assist its investigators in quickly identifying potential defects that emerge. Dr. Cliff also stated that the NHTSA would use the data in making any new laws or requirements concerning these technologies. Cliff also cautioned that drawing conclusions from the crash data collected does not consider factors like the number of motor vehicles from each manufacturer that are equipped with these technologies and are currently on the road.

Safety experts are worried because these self driving technologies permit drivers to give up active control of their vehicles and could cause owners of "fully self-driving" vehicles to falsely believe their vehicles can drive themselves leading to serious accidents with injuries and fatalities. 

Approximately 800,000 Tesla vehicles in the United States have been equipped with Autopilot or the company's other driver-assistance technologies. This could be the main reason why Tesla vehicles accounted for almost 70 percent of the reported accident in the self/driving accident data published. 

In more than 30% of the 130 accidents involving self-driving  systems, the vehicle was stopped and struck by another vehicle. In 11 accidents, a vehicle enabled with self-driving technology was moving straight and crashed with another vehicle that was in the process of changing lanes, according to the data.

NHTSA is examining 35 accidents that happened while Autopilot was activated. Nine of those accidents were fatal and tragically killed fourteen people. 

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Category: Auto Accidents

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