— The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has finally decided to take more of a hands-on role regarding crash data from self-driving vehicles and cars equipped with advanced driver assistance systems.
The federal safety agency has sit on the sidelines by allowing automakers and other autonomous companies to call the shots by choosing whether to follow voluntary guidelines.
But following several incidents which involved driver assistance technology, NHTSA issued an order that requires manufacturers and operators of vehicles equipped with SAE Level 2 advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) or SAE Levels 3-5 automated driving systems (ADS) to report crashes.
Numerous safety organizations have complained about NHTSA ignoring common sense and recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board.
In October 2018, the Center for Auto Safety petitioned NHTSA to require all automated vehicle system companies to provide information to NHTSA and the public regarding the safety of their systems.
The Center says it is welcome news to hear NHTSA is finally entering the discussion concerning the safety of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).
"Given the current lack of ADAS recalls - or regulations or laws governing either ADAS or Automated Driving Systems (ADS) - collecting crash data and sharing it is the very least the government can do in order to provide the public with access to uniform data by which to compare one manufacturer’s safety record to another." — The Center for Auto Safety
According to NHTSA's order, within one day of learning of a crash, companies must report crashes involving a Level 2 ADAS or Levels 3-5 ADS-equipped vehicle that also involve a hospital-treated injury, a fatality, a vehicle that had to be towed, an airbag deployment or an incident that involved a pedestrian or bicyclist.
Then an updated report is due 10 days after learning of the crash.
NHTSA also says that every month companies must report all other crashes involving an ADS-equipped vehicle that involve an injury or property damage. Those reports must then be updated monthly with new or additional information.
Companies must follow the rules if driver assistance systems were engaged during or immediately before the crash.
According to NHTSA, safety regulators will use the data to look for possible safety problems associated with automated systems and if there are common patterns in self-driving vehicle crashes.