NHTSA orders makers of autonomous vehicles to report crashes

NHTSA orders makers of autonomous vehicles to report crashes
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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Tuesday ordered automakers to report any crashes involving automated vehicles.

This new order will require companies to report crashes having to do with automated vehicles on public roads or crashes in which driver-assist systems were being used, The Associated Press reports.

“By mandating crash reporting, the agency will have access to critical data that will help quickly identify safety issues that could emerge in these automated systems,” Steven Cliff, acting NHTSA administrator, said.

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The AP notes that the NHTSA has been hesitant to issue regulations on the new technology in the past out of concern that it may delay adoption of the innovative systems.

This order comes after the NHTSA sent special investigation teams to 31 crashes that involved partially automated driver-assist systems, the AP notes. Of these 31 crashes, 25 involved Tesla’s autopilot system and 10 deaths were reported.

The NHTSA will also be looking into nonfatal crashes involving partially automated systems found in a Lexus RX450H, a Volvo XC-90 and two Cadillac CT6s, the AP reports.

In March, investigators from the NHTSA investigated a “violent crash” involving a Tesla that had become wedged beneath a tractor-trailer after crashing into it. The crash left two people critically injured.

The Self-Driving Coalition — whose members include Uber, Lift and Volvo — said in a statement provided to The Hill that it shares the NHTSA's goal of reducing automobile-related deaths.

"But there must be a distinction between our members’ autonomous vehicles--which do not require human intervention to operate safely--and driver assistance technology like Tesla’s, which requires an attentive driver," the group said.

“We have worked with NHTSA in a highly collaborative and transparent way, going back to the first AV guidance (FAVP 1.0) in 2016," the coalition added. "As we review NHTSA’s new standing general order, the Coalition hopes to restart those constructive conversations so that we can work together to save lives and make our roads safer for everyone.”

Tesla has regularly stressed that the autopilot and “full self-driving” functions on its vehicles are driver-assistance systems and that drivers must be prepared to intervene if needed.